Wine Producers, Growers, & Labels

Paloma, the Little Winery that Could: A Visit with Barbara Richards

The drive to the Spring Mountain district from downtown St. Helena is not for the faint of heart. Climbing ever higher through narrow winding roads, my backseat driver averts her eyes from the unfenced drop-offs, while I apologize silently to the locals in the rear-view mirror. They are clearly irritated to be stuck behind a visitor abiding by the posted speed limits.

It is hard to fathom that such a challenging vertical natural piece of land has been developed into one of the most respected Californian appellations.

Upon arriving at the inconspicuous entrance to Paloma, there is a precipitous climb to a series of three gates

Five Easy Lessons for Starting Your Own Winery

You know you’ve thought about it. Or maybe not, but since you’ve already read the title of this piece, you’re thinking about it now. If you’re a wine lover and you work a regular, nine to five type job, you’ve probably spent at least one wistful moment staring at your computer screen, or into your glass (or maybe both at the same time), muttering about how nice it would be to pick up and drop everything and move to the vineyard. Well guess what, some people actually do it.

Los Alamos: Outpost of Outstanding Wines

Driving on Highway 101, between the Santa Ynez Valley and Santa Maria in Santa Barbara wine country, you pass by rolling hills punctuated by oak trees, sedate cattle and a sea of vineyards, like the ones off Cat Canyon and Kendall Jackson's 1,600 acres.  You also pass by Los Alamos, an old western town founded in 1876 that still doesn't have its own grocery store.

Road Shows: Greece 2007

While no match for the fickle flip of fashion rags like Vogue, nevertheless, wine publications have a tendency to declare a new “wine darling” seemingly every year. From Gruner Veltliner to the rebirth of Riesling, or the rise of Spain to the fall of Australia, wine fashions ebb and flow with the tide of sommelier fancy and corporate marketing. For the last few months, I’ve been noting that more and more publications have been talking about Greece. So, when the “All About Greek Wines” tour (sponsored by thirty-one producers to promote Greek wines in North America) came to San Francisco in April, the time seemed ripe to check out what the latest media starlet had to offer.

Sauvignon Blanc & the Controversy of Cork Versus Screw Caps

One of the great varietals in the world is undoubtedly Sauvignon Blanc. With a history dating back centuries, wines made from this very special grape have played major roles in establishing some of the world’s finest wine regions. When fermented dry, Sauvignon makes some of the easiest-to-appreciate, crisp, expressions of green apple, wild grasses, and citrus. Sweet wines made from the grape are typically profound expressions of honey and spice. However, making memorable Sauvignon is not a process lacking in challenges.

Castle Vineyards: Sonoma’s Royal Secret

As a young girl, I had always dreamed about being a princess inside a castle full of beautiful surroundings and lovely wines.

Well, okay….maybe not the wines so much, but you get the point.

At Castle Vineyards in Sonoma, California, their small, quaint tasting room gives meaning to the word “royalty”. Why, you ask? It’s simple: The folks at Castle really know what they are making and selling and it shows. From the employees to the tasting room and of course, the wine itself, Castle knows how to make one feel like royalty.

California Pinot Alcohol Levels – An Inconvenient Proof?

Interview with Dan Kosta

Anecdotal evidence suggests the raison d’etre of Pinot Noir has been challenged, stretched, and reshaped in the past ten years.

Pick up a Wine Spectator from the mid to late 90’s, and there is a lot of commonality. Dehlinger, Rochioli and Williams Selyem shared face-time with perennial star, Marcassin. Not only do those wineries make a lot of Russian River Pinot, but their alcohol levels in years of ratings dominance held consistently in the 13-14.5% range.


Italian Wines 2007 came to San Francisco's Fort Mason on Thursday, March 21. Not every wine shined, but most of the people did. They had not only dressed in fantastic, glossy outfits of unparalleled poshness, but the greater portion seemed to be Italian and had evidently flown all the way here to sip these wines.

A Mushroom Foray, a Wine Club Soirée

Wine clubs are an increasingly popular way to receive premium and uncommon wines, with regularity, and often at a discount. Many clubs offer special events, occasions to join with congenial and like-minded fellow-members, to get out in the world for a good time with wine, food, music, and sometimes adventure.

The Perfect Vintage – A Merging of Luck and Opportunity

During the recent Masters of Food & Wine event in Carmel, California, Matthew Lane of Australia’s illustrious Penfold’s winery was asked about his philosophy regarding the treatment of grapes at harvest. Lane leaned into his microphone, and twisting a cork between his fingers said, "It doesn’t matter what treatment we apply to the grapes in order for them to ferment and age appropriately. The quality of the fruit has already been established in the vineyard. There is nothing more we can add to what nature has already done."

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