bud break 2013 at Benziger in Sonoma

All Things Being Equinox

Bud break came early this year. Real early for some. Reports began coming in from some of the warmer parts of Napa Valley and Carneros as early as mid-February — as early as some some remember. Phil Coturri, who farms vineyards up and down Sonoma Valley, remembers his mentor Joe Miami telling him tall tales [...]

bubble room

Big Trouble in the Bubble Room

On one recent Friday evening, a dozen sparkling wine producers from Sonoma Valley — about 11 more than we thought made sparkling wine in Sonoma — were untwisting cages, popping corks and pouring glasses of brut, rosé and blanc de blancs in a tent outside the Sonoma Lodge. The vintners and their wines corralled a [...]

The Oroblanco

With an Oroblanco Twist

The Oroblanco is a cross between a grapefruit and a pummelo and grows, to our knowledge, exclusively in California. As part of their farmer’s market cocktail series, the good bar folks at Chaya did well to blend it with Distillery No. 209, which is a very citrusy gin and Campari. The Oroblanco Negroni is fresh [...]

Assyrtiko Vines

You Can’t Take the Santorini Out of the Assyrtiko

The island of Santorini floats in the middle of the Sea of Crete, midway between Greece and Turkey. The small island, whose main industry is now tourism, is believed to be one of the oldest winegrowing regions in the world, with signs of grape fermentation dating back to 3500 BC. The grape Assyrtiko, a white [...]

patron heart-shaped box

Nothing Says I Love You Like Chocolate-Flavored Tequila

For Valentine’s Day, Patrón sent us a heart-shaped box of chocolate flavored tequila.  The tequila maker is selling their XO Cafe Dark Cocoa Coffee Liqueur (yes, it actually tastes of all those things — tequila, chocolate and coffee — but not in a bad way necessarily) in heart-shaped boxes for the holiday. It’s way better than a box of chocolates, especially if [...]

Americans Drink a Lot of Wine, Mostly Shite

When was the last time you purchased a bottle of wine for less than $7? College, maybe? Well, you are a snob. At the annual Unified Wine & Grape Symposium in Sacramento, we learned what most Americans — not Americans who live in stuck-up places like New York and San Francisco — are drinking. Take [...]

A San Francisco Super Bowl Stew

For a while it was looking like there would be no crabs in crabville: With fishing boats on strike for the first part of December, it seemed the Bay Area would be Dungeness less all winter. Thankfully, this has not been the case. Wholesalers came to their senses, the crabby crustaceons are everywhere and the [...]

Korbel ‘Champagne’ served at Inaugural lunch incites international incident (as well it should)

A menu served as part of the inaugural activities surrounding Obama’s re-election included a special cuvée made just for the occasion by California sparkling wine producer Korbel. The wine is listed on the menu as “Korbel Natural, Special Inaugural Cuvée Champagne, California.” (Champagne, California! Why haven’t I been there?) Now why on earth the President [...]

What's in season; Oct'10 - Persimmons - FS=Kevin Crafts

Persimmon salad with dates, cashews, and honey

Western persimmons were introduced to California from Japan (by way of Commodore Matthew Perry) in the 1870s. Tomato-shaped Fuyu persimmons, eaten when firm, ripen just in time for a bright autumnal orange salad. Care should be taken if attempting this recipe with the softer Hachiya, or other astringent type persimmon which can be found in markets well into [...]

mouette a trois

A Holiday Beer in a Post-Holiday World

“Now,” writes John Waters in an essay published in The Dreaded Feast (an excellent anthology of holiday writing that’s currently on post-Kringle markdown at any number of fine retailers) “is the time for suicide if you are so inclined.” He is referring of course to the post-holiday malaise, when the party invitations have stopped flowing, [...]

Stout in a can from Hog Island

Marooned on Hog Island with 21st Amendement and a Bloody Mary

For a few years now, Nico Freccia and Shaun O’Sullivan, co-founders of 21st Amendment Brewery, and Hog Island Oyster Company co-founders John Finger and Terry Sawyer have been cooperating on a combination worthy of Reese’s. Yes, it appears, sir, you’ve got your oysters in my stout. The latest iteration, brewed with shells from Hog Island [...]


Barrel Stave BBQ in Sonoma

All that 40 percent new French oak here and 30 percent new oak there means if there is one thing Wine Country has too much of (besides over-oaked wine) it’s old French oak. And there are only so many candle holders and rocking chairs one can sell to tourists. But used barrels are now answering [...]

Norma Desmond

Is this Wine Corked?

Andrea Immer Robinson bursts into the room like Norma Desmond ready for her close-up. No one notices. Or recognizes her. Or cares. A member of the tasting panel comments that the fruit flavors from this particular vineyard consistently has a “blueish quality” — yes “blueish” — for him and the other guests nod in agreement. [...]

What Does ‘Keeping St. Helena St. Helena’ Mean?

There is an unfortunate tone to Mayor Del Britton’s campaign which makes it seem that keeping St. Helena St. Helena, means keeping some people “IN” and a lot of people “OUT” and that change is a bad thing. The picture of Mr. Galbraith that the Britton ads paint would be funny if it were not [...]

Classic Gin & Tonic from Fagiani’s

There is a classic style of gin known as “London Dry,” which is best categorized by famous household names such as Tanqueray, Gordon’s and Beefeater. The name, however, refers to the style of gin, since a London dry gin doesn’t actually have to be produced in London (ironically enough). In fact Beefeater is the last [...]

This Is Why People Hate Napa Valley

The Napa Valley Wine Wave has been months in the making. And each month that has gone into the planning of this pointless exercise in hollow vanity is that much more infuriating to those of us left utterly confused by the entire endeavor. Not much is clear except what will happen at Krug Winery on [...]

French Blue patio

The Blue Marie, a Bloody Mary with a French Accent

Three sweet little words: Now serving brunch. Few phrases bring more joy to our hearts here at TTG HQ in the brunch hinterlands of Napa. What was once a desert, devoid of benedicts and bloodies, has been shaping up of late. French Blue in St. Helena is the latest restaurant to begin full-on brunch service [...]

A Beach in Indonesia. Photo by Spencer Humiston

A Brief and Miraculous Moment

On the Indonesian island of Bali in SouthEast Asia, there is a brief but miraculous moment that occurs at the end of each day. Just as the sun begins to set below the horizon but before it gets dark, the tide recedes and miles of sand between the sea and the land, wet and perfectly [...]


The Napa Tasting Room Survival Guide

Oh, the tasting room. Since the mid-1970s when California was famously “put on the map” of fine wine at the Paris Tasting, Napa Valley and its surrounding winegrowing regions have become burgeoning tourist destinations. To capitalize on the millions of tourists that visit the region each year — a region that is  essentially a farming [...]

Chef Joey Elenterio on the Future of Foie Gras in California

Too often the debate over the fate of foie gras in California either gets boiled down into over-simplified terms or boils over into barely coherent invective. The ban against producing or selling foie gras went into effect July 1, in accordance with Senate Bill 1520 which outlawed gavage (or the process of force-feeding ducks or [...]

Ca'Momi pizza dough

How To Make Pizza From Scratch (Yes, Even The Dough)

“Set in a warm place to rise for 6-8 hours” is not a phrase from my new book “50 Shades of Yeast.” No, it is the most potentially derailing detail in the process of making dough at home for a delicious no-one-else’s-mouth-noises-must-be-heard pizza dinner in your own sanctuary. True, waiting 6-8 hours to even begin [...]


An Explosive Drink Recipe from Tales of the Cocktail

Unless you are holed up somewhere with a Clockwork Orange-esque eye-lid-opening contraption affixed to your face attempting to take in every possible minute of live-streaming Olympics broadcast you are probably aware of an arguably more pertinent Olympic-size event going on this weekend in New Orleans: the annual beverage industry gathering known as Tales of the [...]

dried grapes

The Art of Fruit Thinning and the Quest for Balance

This week, many grape berries throughout our little corner of the world reached a very important milestone in their steady march towards becoming wine. Veraison (French for ripening), when grapes begin accumulating sugar, color and phenolics is a welcome sight for growers. For starters, powdery mildew is no longer a threat and  grapes start to taste like [...]

Khao Soi By Any Other Name

I’m supposed to be translating his menu, but intead I’m listening to how this stooped man’s shop came to serve Khao Soi, the best noodle dish Thailand has to offer. He smiles, even while he talks, and I’m pulled into to a story of love and adventure. Khao Soi is ubiquitous in northern Thailand and [...]

The Honey Bee's Knees

Fresh Lavender-Infused No. 209 Gin Cocktail

This week we are celebrating our good friend and devoted pollinator, the honey bee. If it weren’t for her hard work and dedication, this cocktail, made with fresh lavender, wouldn’t be possible. Vincent Lee, the equally dedicated barman at Lucy Restaurant and Bar at Bardessono, also played a hand. We are taking the liberty of [...]