• Jancis Robinson, author of 'American Wine'

    Author of ‘American Wine’ Doesn’t Seem to Know Much About American Wine

    In the introduction to her chapter on California in her newest book, American Wine, the preeminent British wine journalist Jancis Robinson writes, “California is the most important winegrowing state in the U.S., the granddaddy of them all in both prestige and production.” And of that small region within California, she says: “The Napa Valley AVA [...]

  • God-Save-The-100-Point-System

    With ‘Advocate’ Reviews in Legal Limbo How Will We Know What Sonoma Wines To Drink?

    At the center of a dispute between Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate and former writer Antonio Galloni are hundreds of Sonoma wine reviews the Italian critic wrote while on a trip to Sonoma in January 2012. By his refusing to give the reviews to the Advocate and instead deciding to publish them on his own site, [...]

  • Old World or New? A Chardonnay Showdown

    Chardonnay, it is said, is the Queen of the grapes. But she is also, arguably moreso than any other variety, a voice of the vineyard and a blank canvas for winemaking, meaning that she is often misinterpreted and unfairly maligned. Table To Grave recently invited a panel of sommeliers, writers and one winemaker to discuss [...]

  • Napa Valley cab is king

    How Did Cab Come To Rule Napa Valley?

    “Carneros in 1957 was full of sheep,” observes Karen MacNeil as we prepare to taste the first commercial pinot noir ever made from the region that is now synonymous with that grape variety. It’s not the most obvious way to begin a two-day retrospective of Napa Valley wine, but what it did do is remind [...]

  • Whole cluster ready to go

    Is That a Whole Cluster in Your Pinot or Are You Just Happy to See Me?

    When you’re a tasting a glass of pinot noir, how do you know — can you even tell and does it matter — whether or not the wine was made with the whole clusters and not just the grapes? Percentage of stem inclusion doesn’t exactly make for the sexiest or most sparkling label copy, but [...]

  • botrytisgrapespink

    Not Just One, But Two Poems about Botrytis

    The following was first read at a Drink.Think a literary and drinking event held at Cantina in San Francisco. Should you be lucky enough to find yourself in France in the fall just before harvest, you might go for a walk in a vineyard with a winegrower. And you might see a cluster of grapes covered [...]

  • Hubble primordial clusters courtesy NASA

    Primordial Clusters, From Galaxies to Grapevines

    In January, 2012 NASA researchers made a very important discovery. The furthest protocluster of galaxies ever seen. Thirteen billion light years from Earth, scientists, with the help of a little guy named Hubble, saw a cluster of five galaxies just beginning to form. They referred to the galaxies as primordial clusters and predicted that they [...]

  • Rudy Mihal

    Rudy Brings Right Touch to Sonoma

    Restaurant Rudy might just be the best little restaurant in the heart of Wine Country you never heard of. Rudy Mihal, who left Spoonbar last year to start his own place, opened the new spot quietly this fall in Sonoma, in an unassuming space that has been a revolving door with three restaurants in a [...]

Grape Cluster Flowering

Vineyard ‘Aphrodisiac Perfume’

Last year about this time, when grapevines were beginning to flower, we wrote about the sex lives of grapes — how they are hermaphroditic, self-pollinating, and the flowers are, according to the decidedly unromantic Jancis Robinson, “unattractive” and “unspectacular.” But what is sex without love? This year we are feeling quite amorous about our just-blossoming [...]

BottleRock Napa billboard

Is this BottleRock Napa billboard pointing the wrong way?

Driving on Highway 12 southeast toward Napa from Sonoma we happened to pass a crew pasting up this sign. By all outward appearances another of the billboards directing people toward the big BottleRock Napa music, food and wine festival scheduled for May 9 to 12 in Napa. We asked BottleRock if this was theirs and [...]

Looking back at the 2012 grape-growing season

The 2012 growing season in the North Coast was, in many respects, nearly perfect. Shot in vineyards across Napa Valley, Lake County, Mendocino, and Sonoma County, this is what it looked like. After a dry winter, much welcome spring rains saturated the soil and filled reservoirs. The primordial clusters that were nestled in so many [...]

Tour Bus Hits Gun Bun, Dinosaur Jr. Get Out

The 2013 concert series at Gundlach Bundschu got off to a fuzzy feedback-filled start Friday night when ’90s rock royalty Dinosaur Jr. played the intimate Old Redwood Barn in Sonoma. DJ stopped in Sonoma on their way out the music-festival-cum-desert bikini beach party that is Coachella. This show was a warm-up for the big fourth [...]

Stranger than Fiction

Yesterday we posted four stories that, in light of some other stories we wrote the previous week, were really just slightly too outrageous to be true. And then, some not even that outrageous. A guest writer, who remained anonymous, pitched in, and we came up with an April Fool’s frontpage that just stretched the bounds [...]