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  Nadia and Selim Zilkha October 30, 2013 – (Arroyo Grande, Calif.) Selim Zilkha has spent a lifetime searching out sustainable solutions to life’s everyday complexities. With a background in such varied industries as retail for mothers-to-be and their babies, natural gas exploration and renewable energy, Zilkha’s most pleasurable pursuit by far has been implementing sustainable methods at Laetitia Vineyard & Winery, on California’s Central Coast. Originally founded by an established French Champagne house in 1982, the Laetitia estate carries on in the longstanding traditions of Burgundy and Champagne with a focus on small-lot Pinot Noir and sparkling wines. Born…
Charles Banks and BobLindquist in photo by JeremyBall Santa Barbara County, CA October 14, 2013 - Charles Banks and Terroir Selections have acquired a majority stake in Santa Maria Valley’s iconic Qupé winery, long considered one of America’s finest Syrah producers. Founder and winemaker, Bob Lindquist, will assume the role of partner, while Louisa Sawyer Lindquist will continue to assist with sales. Moving forward, both parties are committed to improving quality at Qupé. “I am thrilled to work alongside a gifted winemaker and legend like Bob Lindquist,” says Banks. He continues, “Bob has been a steadfast visionary of Syrah for…
Milka Barsic (left) and Violet Grgich with Cep d'Or Trophy Rutherford, CA, October 11, 2013 – “Like the Old Vine (Kao Stara Loza),” a documentary about the life of Vintners Hall of Fame inductee Miljenko “Mike” Grgich, was presented the Grand Jury’s Special Award from the 20th annual Oenovideo International Grape & Wine Film Festival. The documentary’s director, Milka Barisic, accepted the Cep d’Or Trophy in the French Senate at the Palais du Luxembourg, Paris, France on September 27, 2013. Violet Grgich, Mike's daughter, said, “I was extremely honored to represent my father at the award ceremony. This has been…
  Bob Blumer, Surreal Chefby Dan Clarke   By any measure, Jessup Cellars is an unusual operation. When we visited for a Surreal Meal with Bob Blumer, it was especially so. Once known for its home for veterans and not much else, the little town of Yountville continues to evolve. It now boasts very comfortable lodging and some of the best restaurants in California. In fact, the Jessup Cellars tasting room is just a couple of blocks up Washington Street from The French Laundry, an establishment Restaurant Magazine has twice named “The Best Restaurant in the World.” It's a propitious…
 Morning sun rises over Arroyo Seco vineyard. (Monterey, CA) September 17, 2013—With world-renowned terroir ideal for producing complex and concentrated Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, Monterey County’s Arroyo Seco district celebrates its 30th anniversary as an American Viticulture Area (AVA) this fall. One of the first areas in Monterey County to be distinguished as a unique winegrowing region, and one of the smallest in California, the Arroyo Seco AVA had already been recognized for growing outstanding wines – Chardonnay in particular – since the 1960s. Factors such as a cool climate influenced by nearby Monterey Bay, well-drained rocky soils, extreme winds,…
  Napa Valley, CA -- Gayot, the highly-respected, 44 year old “Guide to the Good Life,” has lauded the 2005 Jana Cathedral, made by Scott Harvey Wines, in two categories. In Gayot's September 2013 feature, “Best Wines for Pairing with a Steak”, the Cabernet Sauvignon received the highest score of all 10 wines highlighted. “The 2005 Cathedral definitely wows upon entry,” the review begins. “Its intense, concentrated fruit flavors boast plenty of complexity and show an excellent balance of acidity and tannin. Match Cathedral with perfectly marbled wagyu beef or dry-aged Angus steaks.” Gayot also rated Jana Cathedral among “The…
Last week I tasted a wine that had been sent for review. I thought it was terrible, but decided to run it as our August 30 Wine Pick of the Week. This invites some explanation. Each week for the last couple of years Taste California Travel  has chosen a “Pick of the Week” for both beer and wine. In the former category we have used a “man in the street” format, identifying beer fans and asking them to give our readers some brief, spontaneous comments about a brew they're enjoying at the moment. Our wine reviews are similarly short, but…
  Dr. Liz ThachRohnert Park, CA August 28, 2013 - Dr. Liz Thach, MW, the Korbel Professor of Wine Business at Sonoma State University, has been selected for a Fulbright Specialists project in Mendoza, Argentina at the National University of Cuyo, according to the United States Department of State and the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board. Thach will teach classes on wine business, wine marketing, and eno-tourism to students in the Masters of Viticulture and Enology, as well as work with faculty on curriculum design. The project runs from March 8 through March 22, 2014. Thach is one of…
Jan Shrem, retiring at age 83. SANTA ROSA, Calif., Aug. 21, 2013 /PRNewswire/ – Vintage Wine Estates announced today the acquisition of iconic Clos Pegase Winery and Vineyards. The purchase of the classic Napa Valley estate includes the Calistoga vineyards and a lease of the Los Carneros vineyards which total 450 acres. Jan Shrem, who celebrated his 83rd birthday in July, said, "It is with admiration and respect that I pass the torch of my beloved Clos Pegase to Pat Roney and Vintage Wine Estates. I know they will build upon my success and carry forward my passion for great…
  John and Jim Concannon flank Steve Heimoff and Gus in this Jose Diaz photoby Dan Clarke   Makers of Petite Sirah, ever upping their wine quality, have decided to adopt a more aggressive attitude in promoting the variety. The Eleventh Annual Petite Sirah Symposium was hosted in late July by Concannon Vineyard. The venue was especially appropriate as James Concannon planted Petite Sirah cuttings on his Livermore property back in 1904. Sixty years later his grandsons Joe and Jim were the first to bottle a varietally-labeled Petite Sirah. To suggest that the Concannon family has some history with this…
by Dan Clarke Hospitality We were in a ballroom in San Francisco's venerable St. Francis Hotel. The occasion was a Mondavi Winery dinner celebrating the salubrious effects of wine and its part in a gracious lifestyle. Conversation was lively at my table and just as we were approaching our first course, we heard the rustle of drapes or curtains above us. There was a mezzanine that I hadn't even noticed. Looking up we saw violins and cellos encircling us. The male musicians were in tuxes, the women in their equivalent finery. And then came the sound of all those strings.…
by Dan Clarke A younger Robert Mondavi admires bunch of grapes in front of his new winery. Nature of the Man – Indomitable After a falling out nearly fifty years ago, Robert Mondavi was exiled from Charles Krug, the family winery. Though a financial settlement was reached years later, in the mid-1960s he was adrift and without funds—at least funds necessary to start his own winery. In 1991 a luncheon marking the 25th anniversary of the founding of the Robert Mondavi Winery was attended by several of the people who'd provided financial backing for the venture. One of them recalled…
by Dan Clarke   I first met Robert Mondavi in 1987. We were entering an elevator at the conclusion of a dinner in San Francisco at which he had been honored. The evening was billed as something like Legends of the Napa Valley and he was one of the 12 legends acknowledged that night. “Hi, I'm Bob Mondavi and this is my wife Margrit,” he said, offering a handshake. Of course, I knew who he was. After all, he was a legend in the world of wine. Though I was covering the event for the California Wine Press, I was…
by Jim Laughren Just as beer drinkers are wise to bolster their knowledge and appreciation of fine wine, so too are wine lovers well served by opening their palates (and possibly snooty attitudes–hey, if this isn’t you, cool, but if the shoe fits... ) to embrace the attributes of great beer. And with the hot and muggy season upon us, what better time to begin the exploration? Before you get your grape-stained cargo shorts all in a twist, no one’s saying that summertime wines aren’t marvelous.San Francisco Giants fans can grab a couple of cold ones inside the park at…
by Jim Laughren Do you love entertaining and sharing great food, great wine, and witty repartee with friends, family, and co-workers?San Francisco Travel Assn/Scott Chernis Are you planning those summer menus, loading them with scrumptious combinations of fresh fruits and vegetables? What’s better than a leisurely weekend brunch for half a dozen close friends, with an array of crisp, fresh-from-the-garden salads and beautifully cooked quiches; or a fun, easy backyard barbeque featuring grilled ribs, chicken or shrimp, with roasted corn-on-the-cob and homemade cole slaw? And who doesn’t love those wonderful dinner parties replete with delightful chilled soups, a stunning citrus-glazed…
Jim Carter. proprietor of South Coast Winery (left), accepts his Winery of the Year Award from Wesley Chesbro, Chairmman of the Assembly Select Committee on Wine, and Noreen Evans, Chair of the Senate Select Committee on California's Wine Industry. Sacramento, CA June 25, 2013. Chief Judges Rick Kushman and Mike Dunne joined representatives of state government this morning in announcing winners of California's State Fair wine competition. Originally scheduled to take place on the west steps of the Capitol Building, ceremonies were moved to a conference room indoors because of the most unseasonal summer rains. South Coast Winery from Temecula…
by Jim Laughren, CWE   Weapons of Mass Confusion, or We’re-So-Cool Intimidation? Offering little actionable information, arranged according to the whims of a newly-acquired sommelier or wine distributor, restaurant wine lists seldom do much to help the customer. Yet this negative can be easily converted to a plus, enhancing your reputation as a sophisticated and knowledgeable diner, even with wine expertise two steps above none whatsoever. You know the scene: a business dinner, with the boss, the head of sales and the folks from finance, and those oh-how-badly-we-want-them prospective clients. Though you’re not (yet) top dog at the table, you…
  June 18, 2013, Rutherford, CA – “Like the Old Vine (Kao Stara Loza),” a documentary about how Vintners Hall of Fame inductee Miljenko “Mike” Grgich achieved his American dream, is the winner of the Grand Jury’s Special Award at the 20th annual Oenovideo International Grape & Wine Film Festival in Carcassonne-Minervois, France. From May 30 to June 2, 2013, judges and festival goers viewed 26 films from 14 countries at this international meeting of the worlds of cinema and wine in the medieval city of Carcassonne, France. Mike Grgich and the documentary’s Director, Milka Bariŝić, will join the other…
  Photographer Gerry Parrott captured the moment as hands of Tim Mondavi and Margrit Biever Mondavi set the plaque. The Napa Valley Vintners (NVV) has dedicated a stately, old-growth olive tree planted at its St. Helena office in honor of Robert Mondavi, one of the founding members of the wine trade organization. Mondavi's life was celebrated during an intimate ceremony this week at the NVV that included Margrit Biever Mondavi, members of the Mondavi family and winery staff, and representatives of the NVV's Board of Directors and staff. June 18, 2013 marked the 100th anniversary of Robert Mondavi's birth."The concept…
by Jackie Townsend American children don’t grow up with wine as an inherent part of meals as Italian children do. We drink milk, and while wine might be at our tables, lumped in with beer or liquor, we inherit almost a fear of it. It is illegal after all; we might be arrested if caught drinking it under twenty-one, our parents might remind us. Not to mention that it tastes horrible. Since an Italian’s taste for wine is absorbed over time, the idea of getting drunk on it, as this one teenage American did once, is obtuse. My first exposure…
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