Livermore Valley

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Why Don’t You… 10 Non-Resolutions for Wine Drinkers

I love New Year’s – a good excuse to drink bubbly, but I hate the idea of making new year’s resolutions, don’t you? Instead I’m going to follow what fashion icon Diana Vreeland, the legendary Vogue editor-in-chief (pre-Anna Wintour) would say about fashion rules. Prior to her years at Vogue, Vreeland wrote a column for Harper’s Bazaar titled “Why Don’t You…” So with that inspiration, here are my top 10 suggestions (non-resolutions) for the year 2012 in wine.
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DRINK – An audacious wine, Petite Sirah

According to, audacious means extremely bold or daring, recklessly brave or fearless. I think that’s a great way to describe Petite Sirah. It’s big, it’s bold, it’s beautiful, and yes, adacious. The PS grape does well in many growing regions in California: Mendocino County, Lodi, Paso Robles and of course, Livermore Valley. Each region produces a slightly different style. Some have more bright cherry fruit, others more complexity and tannins. PS I Love You is the name for an annual gathering of Petite Sirah winemakers, growers and groupies. Don’t know Petite Sirah? No, it’s not a smaller variety of the Syrah grape; it’s its own varietal. Often used in blended red wines. But, more and more wineries are making this single variety. In 1975 there were roughly 20 producers. By 2009 that number has grown to 700+. A big question at the Petite Sirah symposium, how mainstream can Petite…

DRINK – Barrel tasting in Livermore Valley

ll Livermore Valley is one of my favorite wine growing regions in northern California. It’s easy to get to and is not over run with traffic and tour buses (not yet anyway!) If you’re not familiar with this area, it’s south east of San Francisco, in what the locals call the East Bay. As in many wine regions, there’s an annual barrel tasting weekend, where you can visit the wineries, talk to the winemaker and taste barrel samples. The first stop was at Bent Creek Winery, where they were not only offering samples, they were also doing a blending demonstration. You first tasted samples of Cab from barrels with two types of wood — French and Hungarian oak. There is a difference, one was rounder and softer (French oak) the other much bigger in tannins (Hungarian oak). Then you blended the two samples and the result — it tasted better…

DRINK – #CaliCabs Tweetup

On Thursday, Feb 11, I took part in the #CaliCabs Community Tasting Tweetup event that was created by St. Supery winery’s resident social media guru, Rick Bakas. The event started at 5 pm PST, with Cabs from Paso Robles south to San Diego tasted from 5-5:30pm. Then Cabs from Monterey to Lodi were up. Finally, at 6-7 pm, northern Calif Cabs. My contributions…Eden Canyon “Jolie” from Paso Robles, and cabs from Livermore Valley, a Retzlaff Vineyards and BoaVentura de Caires. The tweets came fast and furious. At times hard to keep up with the volume. According to Rick, 172 of us on Twitter took part, generating about 2,000 tweets to 1,000,000 followers. Many of the folks were at St. Supery winery, or at Judd’s Hill winery in Napa. I have to say that even though I was in my living room in San Jose, I felt like I was part…