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By Dan Clarke   George Starke photo courtesy of St. Helena StarMy friend George Starke died Saturday. After serving his country as a naval officer in World War II, George enjoyed a career as a petroleum engineer. He and his wife Bette moved up to the Napa Valley after leaving Standard Oil. In the early days of his retirement George and Bette were involved in the ownership of Napa Cellars winery, but we met subsequent to that part of his life. George was penning his column, Up and Down the Wine Roads, for the St. Helena Star and I was…
Jack and Jamie Davies TASTE News Service (May 31, 2015) — Schramsberg Vineyards, America’s first craft sparkling wine house, celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2015. Hugh Davies, second-generation vintner, will be kicking-off various retrospective tastings, winemaker dinners and events beginning in September thru December 2015. The winery is also releasing a special 50th anniversary bottling to commemorate this golden celebration. In 1965, Jack and Jamie Davies revived the Schramsberg winery on the property originally founded in 1862 by German immigrants Jacob and Annie Schram. Their vision was to create the first American sparkling wine from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes…
Christian O'Kuinghttons of the Atlantis TASTE News Service May 22, 2015 – After 12 years in San Francisco, the annual Pinot Noir Summit is moving. Barbara Drady of Affairs of the Vine has announced her organization has entered into a partnership with the Atlantis Casino Resort Spa to host the event in Reno on July 24th and 25th. Under the direction of sommelier Christian O’Kuinghttons the Atlantis is recognized for an exemplary wine program. The Pinot Noir Summit, the culmination of the Annual Pinot Noir Shootout competition, has become the largest competition of Pinot Noirs in the wine world. For…
Three Palms, America's best-known Merlot vineyard TASTE News Service – May 14, 2015 – Yesterday Duckhorn Wine Company announced that, after 37 years of making wines from its coveted fruit, the company has acquired Napa Valley’s legendary Three Palms Vineyard. Duckhorn Vineyards made its inaugural Three Palms Vineyard Merlot in 1978. This iconic wine helped to pioneer luxury Merlot in California, and played a pivotal role in establishing it as one of North America’s great premium varietals. Three Palms was acquired from Sloan and John Upton for an undisclosed price. Duckhorn Wine Company has been purchasing all of the grapes…
by Julie Ann Kodmur May 13, 2015 Is there a “perception vs. reality” problem in Napa Valley? This publicist thinks so. And if it doesn’t get fixed soon, there may be unfortunate consequences. Let’s dip into a real world scenario. In case you haven’t heard, the Napa Valley is now in the middle of a whirlwind of controversy about whether there should be a moratorium on new wineries and vineyard development (among other related issues). To that end, the Board of Supervisors and Planning Commission appointed a task force to consider these issues. Called the Agricultural Protection Advisory Committee, it’s…
  Charleston tasters experience a bit of Napa Valley TASTE News Service, March 30, 2015 - Mira Winery celebrated the Grand Opening of the Napa Valley Education Center & Tasting Room (NVEC) in mid-March. The facility gives visitors a unique Napa experience - a premiere wine destination but in Charleston, S.C., a historic culinary destination. It will offer a number of programs using interactive displays, videos and visiting speakers. “The Napa Valley Education Center & Tasting Room is the first of its kind and we’re thrilled it is finally open,” said Mira President Jim Dyke, Jr. “Napa Valley is one of the…
TASTE News Service March 24, 2015 - E. & J. Gallo Winery (Gallo) and J Vineyards & Winery announced today that Gallo has agreed to purchase the critically-acclaimed sparkling wine producer. Founded in 1986 by Judy Jordan, J Vineyards & Winery is located in Sonoma County’s Russian River Valley and produces a wide range of prized sparkling wines, Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris. According to Roger Nabedian, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Gallo’s Premium Wine Division, "We are very excited to add the J Vineyards & Winery brands to our premium portfolio of wines. The brand’s contemporary elegance…
TASTE News Service March 5, 2015 – The California State Fair has announced that Gary Eberle,  founder of Eberle Winery, is being honored with the 2015 Wine Lifetime Achievement Award. Each year the California State Fair Winery Advisory Task Force puts forth recommendations and selects an honoree through an open meeting process. Gary Eberle joins the ranks of industry legends Robert Mondavi, Jerry Lohr, Mike Grgich, and Dr. Richard Peterson in receiving this prestigious honor. “I’m honored to receive this recognition. I pursued wine enology because it fascinated me – the vineyard aspect of growing grapes and the technical art…
TASTE News Service, February 24, 2015 – The creation of White Zinfandel dates back to 1972, when Bob Trinchero was experimenting with ways to make his acclaimed Amador County Zinfandel even more robust. Emulating the French rosés he greatly admired, Bob fermented the free-run, drawn-off juice of his Zinfandel to dryness and barrel-aged it before bottling the pale pink elixir as a curiosity item for his tasting room clientele. He called this wine “White Zinfandel.”  In 1975, the White Zinfandel suffered a stuck-fermentation, which occurs when the fermentation stalls before all the grape sugar could be converted into alcohol. Despite…
TASTE News Service, February 19, 2015 – Charles Krug Winery and La Chaine des Rotisseurs announced today that centenarian Peter Mondavi, Sr. will be welcomed into La Chaine des Rotisseurs in a solo induction ceremony held at the historic Carriage House on the grounds of the Charles Krug Winery on Saturday, February 28th. Mr. Mondavi will become the oldest person ever inducted into the society and one of only a handful of members ever to receive a solo induction ceremony – the last person being His Holiness Pope Francis I. The evening will be a black tie celebration, with authentic…
Although they appear without attribution, most of Taste California Travel’s wine reviews are written by the editor. In addition to contributing to his own publications since 1984, Dan has done freelance wine and food writing for approximately 30 consumer and trade titles. Along the way, he also sold wine to retail shops and restaurants and worked in one of Napa’s best vineyards. He is fortunate to have had wonderful experiences in many of the world's wine regions and tries to find something good in each bottle he samples. While our “Wine Pick of the Week” segment usually reflects Dan’s own preferences, sometimes a wine will…
TASTE News Service February 3, 2015 – Seghesio Family Vineyards, the Healdsburg winery celebrating its 120th anniversary this year, has announced the promotion of Ted Seghesio to the position of General Manager and Winemaker.  In this new role, Seghesio, who has been responsible for winemaking for the past 32 years, will now oversee all daily winery and cellar operations.  His appointment marks the latest chapter in the winery’s rich history. They are known for Zinfandels and Italian varietals, including the Home Ranch Zinfandel produced from a 120-year-old vineyard and the Chianti Station, a field blend of century-old Sangiovese vines.   “The…
A master with Chardonnay TASTE News Service January 17, 2015 - In 1980 “The Great Chicago Showdown” brought together 221 of the best Chardonnays from around the world. Chardonnays from France, California, New York and even Bulgaria were collected for a historic first, the largest blind tasting of that time of one single varietal. The first vintage that Miljenko “Mike” Grgich crafted at Grgich Hills, his 1977 Chardonnay, emerged triumphant with a first place ribbon and the Chicago Tribune called it “The best Chardonnay in the world.” With this win so close on the heels of the famous 1976 Paris…
Tasting menu pairs foods with Sangiovese and other varietals by Dan Clarke Sangiovese has disappointed many California growers and vintners. Once hoped to be the next viticultural success in a state that can grow most anything, this variety hasn't reached the broad success here that it has enjoyed in Tuscany. Were there more growers devoted to the cause like Jim Gullett, the story might be different. San Francisco Bay Area natives Jim and Suzy Gullett purchased 21 acres in the Shenandoah Valley of California's Amador Country in the fall of 1984. Zinfandel and Barbera had long history in Amador County…
Stephanie Gallo TASTE News Service December 9, 2014 — E. & J. Gallo Winery, the world’s largest family–owned winery, recently commissioned its inaugural Gallo Consumer Wine Trends Survey to capture the current state of Americans’ wine drinking attitudes and behaviors. The survey posed a series of questions to 1,001 frequent wine drinkers in the US, which resulted in a better understanding of exactly where, when and how Americans are enjoying wine. “We are committed to capturing an annual snapshot to help us continue producing wines that meet America’s evolving tastes and reflect today’s growing number of different wine occasions,” said…
Ripe Zinfandel cluster at Heritage Vineyard in photo by ZAP TASTE News Service December 5, 2014 - For the first time in 24 years, four new Zinfandel selections have been named by authoritative experts from UC Davis and Zinfandel Advocates and Producers (ZAP) Heritage Vineyard Project. The collaboration between ZAP and UC Davis is marking the culmination of 17 years of research to date. The four named Zinfandel vineyard selections are Lytton, Moore, Teldeschi, and George Zeni. Each represents a unique set of research data sourced from historic old vine plantings that are geographically diverse from the other selections, proven…
Sun sets over Sierra Vista Cabernet vineyard  TASTE News Service – November 26, 2014 – Wineries and grape growers in the El Dorado wine region have wrapped up another successful harvest. Though the 2014 yields appear lower than the last three years, the recent harvest resulted in extremely high-quality grapes. Significant spring rains followed by consistent, slightly above average temperatures during the growing season marked one of the earliest harvests on record. “The quality of this year was outstanding,” said Josh Bendick of Holly’s Hill Vineyards. “2014 was the shortest harvest we have ever had. Although we’ve started picking earlier…
Croatian winemaking students pose with Mike Grgich: From left: Daniel Božac, Miljenko “Mike” Grgich, Petra Balažić and Marina Šeparović. Daniel interned at Cakebread Cellars in Napa while Peta and Marina worked at Opolo Vineyards in Paso Robles. Without the knowledge of the selection committee, Petra is also a niece of Ivo Jeramaz, Mike’s nephew and Vice President of Vineyards and Production for Grgich Hills. TASTE News Service November 21, 2014 – Winners of the Miljenko Grgich Scholarship Fund at the University of Zagreb in Croatia finally met their benefactor in the Legacy Room at Grgich Hills Estate on Tuesday. Vintners…
Amador Zinfandel at harvest by Ray Anderson TASTE News Service November 13, 2014 – The Zinfandel Advocates and Producers (ZAP) pushed to establish National Zinfandel Day in 2010 to recognize Zinfandel's versatility, range of flavors, and many California producers. Renwood Winemaker Joe Shebl couldn't agree more.  "There are so many great vineyards in the Sierra Foothills, especially old vine Zinfandel," he says. "I love being able to work with so many of them." This year's National Zinfandel Day falls on Wednesday, November 19. Zinfandel is California's "heritage" grape variety.  There were more than 48,000 acres of Zinfandel planted in the…
Gina Gallo TASTE News Service November 10, 2014 - Gina Gallo of the E & J Gallo Winery received the American Wine Society's 2014 Award of Merit at the organization's national conference in Concord, N.C. Nov. 1. Part of the third generation of the family that helped shape the world of wine, Gina Gallo distinguished herself through the Gallo Signature Series, limited production wines made with the best grapes from Gallo's estate vineyards. Granddaughter of company co-founder Julio Gallo, Gina began her life in agriculture at the age of 10, working in the family's vegetable garden. Farm and vineyard became…
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