A Press Democrat Blog

Tasting Room

The Wine Guide

Crowdfunding at the Sonoma Harvest Wine Auction?

“Fund-the-Future” is the ultimate in crowdfunding, and this Kickstarteresque effort to raise money for literacy is certain to spiral into seven digits at Sunday’s Sonoma Harvest Wine Auction. This incarnation of crowdfunding happens, for the most part, under the white tent where the goodwill hoopla is infectious. Last year paddle-holders bid from $250 to $100,000, raising $1.7 million. This was the largest group lot raised within the auction’s record-breaking take of $4 million. At the auction, the format in bidding… Read More »

“I don’t think the incident will keep African Americans from Wine Country, but it might keep them from the wine train.”

Mack Roach III, an African American wine enthusiast, said he’s concerned about the recent Napa Wine Train incident. The radiation oncologist at UCSF in San Francisco was just in Wine Country on Saturday. He joined 100 other African Americans at Vision Cellars’ Greens Cook Off. “I don’t think the incident will keep African Americans from Wine Country, but it might keep them from the wine train,” Roach said. The incident in question happened over the weekend when the staff of the… Read More »

Top five earthquake preparedness tips for vintners

Several vintners I spoke to weren’t affected by Sunday’s tremor – the 3.92-magnitude earthquake with its epicenter northeast of The Geysers. But this jolt, coupled with the one-year anniversary of the South Napa earthquake, has many vintners taking action. Here’s a short list of tips from vintners: 1)        Talk to insurance brokers about a new earthquake policy for wineries – London Wine Stock & Barrel Coverage. It’s reportedly more reasonable than past options. 2)        For vintners who store barrels on… Read More »

Beware. Green wine drinkers detest greenwashing.

Greenwashing? Greenwashing is the practice of just paying lip service to environmental issues, and for the record, Millennials loathe it. “They are always on the lookout for corporate hypocrisy,” according to Forbes magazine. How does this translate to the green wine drinker? I recently asked several of these green palates, age 33 and under, about their environmental preferences. I was interested in what impressed them most because green comes in countless flavors: biodynamic farming, organic certifications, solar panels, benefits for… Read More »

Insider tip for the everyday wine drinker

A friend I know said he routinely checks over the wine merchandise at the Grocery Outlet on Fourth Street in Santa Rosa. He tells me it’s the best way to keep the economics of being an everyday wine drinker in check. When I stopped in I was surprised by the transformation. Practically one fourth of the store is devoted to wine with upwards of 500 labels, and the best variety for the everyday wine drinker — value wines that over-deliver… Read More »

Request: Tips for how to best enjoy the Sonoma Wine Country Weekend

With the event quickly approaching – Sept. 4-6- the vintners are no doubt prepping for their zany auction skits, and we’re preparing too. We’re working on a story that will give people the best “insider’s guide” for the weekend events. We’re asking you to lend a hand by sending your tips and pointers for how to best enjoy any or all of the trio of events. They include Sonoma Starlight at Francis Ford Coppola Winery in Geyserville Sept. 4; Taste… Read More »

Early harvest points to a bizarre year

As the pick begins in Northern California’s Wine Country, winegrowers reveal what’s behind it: a peculiar year. Andy Smith, winegrower and co-owner of DuMol Vineyard & Winery in Santa Rosa, said “It’s been a very strange year … the season never settled into a consistent weather pattern.” On Aug. 19 Smith expects to join the ranks of those harvesting, once he finishes bottling. Smith said the odd year began when February was warmer than May, giving the vines an early… Read More »

The Rocky fire and a potential minor casualty — grapes from smoke taint

As the Rocky fire rages, vintner Ryan Zepaltas is tracking its every move; he wants to make sure the Lake County vineyard he sources fruit from is not in its path. So far the 20-acre vineyard of sauvignon blanc grapes hasn’t gone up in flames. But the vines could still be affected by the smoky skies overhead. “We’ll pull cluster samples and send them to the lab to see if we detect smoke taint,” Zepaltas said. “It’s way worse on… Read More »

Not a Trust Fund Baby? Make wine anyway

If there were really a God, wouldn’t the Almighty tell us to chase our dreams and then cut a check to cover the costs? Well that divine check hasn’t come yet for many of us, including some vintners. With Wine Country’s recent flurry of buyouts from the cash strapped, it begs the question: How does one make a go of it if you’re not a TRUST FUND BABY? Vintner Brian Callahan — unabashedly TRUST FUND-LESS — has the answer. “You’ve… Read More »

The Bohemian Grove’s appetite for eats and drinks

The cadre of America’s wealthiest men gathered at the Bohemian Grove are fans of local. “Typically if it’s not local, they don’t want it,” said John Haggard, the owner and wine buyer of Sophie’s Cellars in Duncan Mills. Haggard knows the whims of these highbrow campers because this year he has been helping them with menu pairings. Aside from Sophie’s Cellars, local purveyors have included Raymond’s Bakery in Cazadero, as well as Mom’s Apple Pies from Sebastopol. Haggard is tight-lipped… Read More »