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Twelve of the top twenty-one Napa Valley wines this year (including four of the top-rated wines) were made with fruit grown by grape growers who do not make wine. These top-rated wines were a combination of an independent grape grower and a demanding winemaker, working together to make great wines—the greatest wines in America, in fact, according to the Wine Spectator. Andy Beckstoffer“There is a sea change in the California wine business,” says Andy Beckstoffer, a grape grower whose grapes are the source of seven of the top twenty-one wines. “The idea that a single estate will always make the…
Madera’s Ficklin Vineyards celebrated their 65th anniversary in the Port business last September. The focus now, as it was from the start, is to make authentic Ports from four traditional Portuguese grape varieties planted in the family vineyard in 1945. One of the most popular wines Ficklin still produces is the Old Vine Tinta Port, which was first released in October, 1951. It is an aged ruby style that originated with David Ficklin, the original winemaker. The solera system for that wine was started with the first Ports made at Ficklin in 1948. Today, two-hundred and fifty-six American oak barrels…
  The Central Coast American Viticultural Area (AVA) stretches roughly 250 miles along the coastline of California, from San Francisco County in the north to Santa Barbara County in the south, averaging about 25 miles in width. A very large AVA, the Central Coast encompasses approximately four million acres, of which 90,300 acres are planted to winegrapes. The region produces almost 15 percent of the state’s total winegrape production and is home to about 360 wineries.   An area further south, loosely called the Southern California Region, includes five AVAs that cover 267,500 acres in Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino…
(Editor's note: This article originally appear in 2002, when the author was privileged to attend a dinner honoring California's greatest winemaker.)   by Dan Clarke   Tchelistcheff monument now at BV. Photo by Creative Common.André Tchelistcheff may have been the most significant figure in the history of American wine. The Russian born and French trained winemaker immigrated to the United States in 1938, beginning a lifelong association with Beaulieu Vineyard (BV). Though he died eight years ago at age 92, friends and colleagues said his presence was still felt at a tribute held in his honor Monday evening, the 5th…
(Editor’s note: The following essay appeared in the November 1990 edition of the California Wine Press and has been rerun in California Wine and Food. In some ways the world has changed since then—wages have risen and the price of top-quality wines has, too--but the hand picking of winegrapes remains much the same.)   By Dan Clarke   They start to gather in the darkness. It’s still a little chilly and most are wearing light jackets or wool plaid overshirts. Later they will peel these off and work in tee-shirts. Merlot vines on rolling hills of Bancroft Vineyard. Photo by…
by Dan Clarke   Only one award was made to the Grower of the Year, but several people received it.John and Gail show visitor a picture of trophy salmon from a recent vacation. In January the California Association of Winegrape Growers, otherwise known as CAWG, initiated this award for an individual, family or company representing “an outstanding example of excellence in viticulture and management, and is recognized by others for innovation and leadership within the industry.” The John Kautz Family of Lodi were the collective honorees. John and Gail Kautz are Chairman and Vice-Chairman of Kautz Family Vineyards. All four…
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