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 [...]

cowhorns stuffed with manure

To See the Universe in a Pile of a Shit

It’s late fall; the air is cool but the sun is warm and the vines, having been relieved of the burden of bearing fruit are just beginning to shrug their leaves. Each vine, like most trees and plants across the northern hemisphere is pulling its energy downwards, back into its roots. After months of drawing [...]

redhookwinery

Red Hook Resilience

Amongst the devastation Sandy left in its wake after battering the Atlantic coast was a portion of Red Hook Winery’s 2012 vintage, much of it fermenting in open-top containers when the winds and rains breached the winery’s waterfront facing doors and water came flooding in. The first impression from the Red Hook team was not [...]

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. [...]

wet grapes

Will clusters rot or dry out? On Friday, the clock begins ticking

On Sunday night, October 21, 2012, it rained. It rained and rained and rained. Mushroom foragers are happy. Gardens are happy. Gardeners are happy. Even the vines, as they sigh away their leaves and settle into dormancy, are happy. As Chuck Mansfield, the winemaker for Hop Kiln Winery in Healdsburg, tells it, “This moderate rain [...]

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 [...]

picked

To Pick or Not to To Pick? That is the Question

For all of September, harvest was happily humming along in most of Wine Country with truckloads of grapes arriving in the early morning hours at crush pads almost daily — chardonnay, gewürztraminer, pinot noir — and the smell of fermentation hung sweetly in the air. But in Napa Valley, there was one thing that wasn’t [...]

PINKOS

Turley Zinfandel Lightens Up

On September 5, the first zinfandel grapes of the 2012 vintage arrived at the crush pad of Turley Wine Cellars. But these weren’t just any grapes. Oh no, these grapes are not destined to become a burly Turley Zinfandel. Picked at just 21 Brix, the fate of this grapes is of a lighter hue. A [...]

Sauvignon blanc grape pick

Sauvignon Blanc Hits Crush Pads

What does sauvignon blanc mean to you? Is it grassy and herby and does it smell slightly of cat piss? Is it rich and tropical, even creamy, with hints of oak? Minerally like a river bed with mouth-watering acidity that screams out for seafood? Or is it sweet, lush and honeyed, served in a delicate [...]

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 [...]

The view from Mt. St. Helena

What We Talk About When We Talk About Napa

Napa Valley is a place. A stretch of land. Napa is a city. Napa is a state of mind. It’s a state of wine. What’s the first thing you think of when you think of “Napa?” The answer probably has more to do with you than it does with the place, the people who live [...]

good morning, handsome

Birds in the Vineyard

For most of the year, the vineyard is a great place for birds. The nooks and crannies created by canes and cordons make for perfect nesting spots while the lush canopy overhead provides much-needed shade and protection from predators. The soil is a genuine buffet of creepy crawling critters – from insects for the starlings [...]

Mumm staffers celebrating the first grape harvest or 2012

Harvest 2012 Begins With a Bang

On Friday, Aug 10 at 11 a.m., a rubber-boot-clad army of eager employees gathered on the crush pad of Mumm in Napa Valley to welcome the arrival of the first grapes of 2012: pinot noir from the Gamefarm Vineyard in Yountville. Winemaker Ludovic Dervin celebrated the beginning of harvest by sabering a bottle of 2003 [...]

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 [...]

napavalley

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 [...]

gotwine?

It’s Not You, It’s ‘Meh’: How Many Tastings Are Too Many?

Two of the seemingly most popular wine descriptors used by visitors of wine country on Yelp are “just okay” and “meh” (or sometimes just “eh”). A couple of other phrases that pop up again and again are: “I wasn’t blown away” and the wines were “not memorable.” Are there a lot of mediocre wines in the [...]

oneeyedjacks

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 [...]

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 [...]

Grapes

Honey Bees in the Vineyard

If you learn only one thing from studying a honey bee colony it is probably that a hive functions as one organism. You cannot separate any one part of it from another. It is all interdependent. Then you’d do well to extrapolate that out to realize this is a microcosm of nature. In this light, [...]

bwgrapes

Waiting to Exhale

Take a deep breath. Now, hold it. Now keep holding it. Seriously, don’t exhale! Keep holding your breathe. This is what the second week of July, 2012 feels like in Wine Country. And no, it isn’t because we’re driving through a tunnel, free-diving for abalones or watching the heroine in a horror film fumble with [...]

A Winemaker’s Inquiry Into ‘Winemaker Dinners’

I must be candid: I hate “winemaker dinners.” Most such events are marketing dinosaurs, lumbering arthritically across a sad and faded landscape. I have been pressed to do them for years, and I have rarely enjoyed them. And when I have, it was never because of some alleged “synergy” between the wine and the food, [...]

The Emperor

A Winery Goes to the Dogs

Napa Valley is not a bad place to be a dog. I mean, sometimes you get to run around the vineyards and chase Jack Rabbits and meet those dirty, socially awkward vineyard dogs, but often, let’s face it, we get stuck waiting in the hot car while the Mister and Missus go into the cool, [...]

vrgrapes

Permission to Bitch Slap a Winemaker

The grapes are looking very vulnerable, very exposed this week. Long, cool, foggy mornings throughout Napa Valley and Sonoma means that leafing has been especially aggressive on the morning side of the vines. As we head into veraision (just a couple weeks away, according to John Wilkinson, a member of the Napa Valley Grapegrowers and a grower [...]

vineswater

Vines Still Happy, But Slightly Stressed

“Things are moving fast out there!” reports viticulturist Kevin Skene from Sonoma. Warm weather continues this week in all areas “shortening the window to get passes in” according to Matt Hardin of Barbour Vineyards in Napa Valley. “The conditions are warm, tracking perfectly, and are shaping up to be as great as 2008,” says John Conover, the General [...]