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NorCal Wine Has Moved

Hi! The content here is no longer being updated. Please visit my new site at It has fresh, new content five days a week. Content from this site is gradually being migrated to the... Read more...

'Tis the Season to be Zinful

'Tis the Season to be Zinful

During this season, with visions of sugar plums dancing in my head, my thoughts often segue to Zinfandel. The soft and jammy berry fruit, welcoming spice and touch of sweetness goes wonderfully with... Read more...

New Tasting Rooms & a Grand Opening in Lodi

I’ve written numerous times about the increasing quality of wine coming out of Lodi. What I haven’t said much about is how the tasting room scene has been improving. My bad. There have been a number... Read more...

How You Can Contribute to Earthquake Relief in Napa

It’s been easy for some people from outside the immediate area to make jokes about “free run juice” and “air-lifts of water crackers,” but last week’s earthquake in southern Napa devastated... Read more...

A Tale of Two Conferences

In my last article, Cats and Dogs Blogging Together, I said there are two species of blogger: career bloggers and hobbyist bloggers. The North American Wine Bloggers’ Conferences could serve each... Read more...

Cats and Dogs Blogging Together

There are two species of wine bloggers. Within each species, there are many breeds—reporter, diarist, taster, storyteller, etc.—which have analogs in the other. But the two species are very different... Read more...

Getting the Wine Bloggers Conference We Deserve

I attended this year’s North American Wine Bloggers’ Conference in Santa Barbara last week. This was the fifth WBC I’ve attended. Some parts of the conference were truly excellent, many were interesting... Read more...

New White Wines and Rosés from Rutherford's Day in the Dust

Last Wednesday afternoon, the Rutherford Dust Society held their annual tasting for trade and media at Inglenook. Roughly 40 wineries were represented. I tasted 54+ wines (in addition to those from the... Read more...

6 More California Rhone Wines to Try at Rhone Rangers

It’s time for one more brief list of wines for you to seek out at the Rhone Rangers tasting this Sunday. Get your Grand Tasting tickets here and don’t forget to use the discount code: GT–20... Read more...

Lodi Zinfandel Goes Native

Lodi is well-known for Zinfandel. Of particular note are its many acres of old vines. Thick-trunked and twisted after all these years, they look more like short trees than grape vines. The fruit... Read more...

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Wine of the Day

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2010 Moone-Tsai Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley

2010 Moone-Tsai Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley

The exotic-sounding Moone-Tsai is a collaboration of Napa Valley business veterans (Mike Moone, Mary Ann Tsai and Larry Tsai) and star winemaker Philippe Melka. The flagship wine is Cor-Leonis, a luxurious... Read more...

2009 Hawk and Horse Cabernet Sauvignon

2009 Hawk and Horse Cabernet Sauvignon

The Hawk and Horse wines come from a sloping, 18-acre estate vineyard that reaches up to 2,200 feet in Lake County's Red Hills AVA. The deep red, volcanic soil is peppered with silicon-based crystals known... Read more...

Four from Falcone Family Vineyards

After many years of making wine together and separately at prominent wineries, Helen and John Falcone launched their own project, Falcone Family Vineyards, in 2002. Their eight-acre vineyard, about seven... Read more...

2010 Skinner Vineyards Estate Mourvedre, El Dorado

The potential for great wine growing in the Sierra Foothills is massive, particularly for Rhone varieties. In recent years, quality in the bottle has started delivering on that. Skinner Vineyards and Winery... Read more...

2012 Masut Estate Vineyard Pinot Noir, Mendocino County

Bobby Fetzer managed the vineyards and bought grapes for his family’s Fetzer Vineyards,[1] founded in 1968, until the business was sold to Brown-Forman in 1992. Four years later, he bought 1,500 acres... Read more...

2010 Gallica Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley

Holy cow, this a gorgeous wine. I tasted—no, I drank—it last night at The Restaurant at Wente Vineyards. [The restaurant is offering 50% off all bottles on their wine list this month, so now’s the... Read more...

2011 Harney Lane Old Vine Zinfandel Lizzy James Vineyard Lodi

Lodi is well-known for old vine Zinfandel with many vines planted more than a century ago. Some of Lodi’s grape-growing families have participated in as many vintages themselves. The Schnaidt-Mettler... Read more...

2006 Santana Supernatural Rosé by Mumm Napa

Mumm Napa has been making sparkling wines in concert with Carlos Santana for several years now. 100% of Santana’s proceeds from the sales go to agencies helping to prevent and/or remedy youth substance... Read more...

2011 Jekel Riesling Monterey and 2011 Jekel Pinot Noir Santa Barbara

Riesling is one of the wine world’s best values. Whether the bottle comes from Germany, Australia, Alsace, Washington State, New York or a cool region in California, you can consistently get more flavor... Read more...

2012 Matthiasson Chardonnay Linda Vista Vineyard Napa Valley

My first experience with Matthiasson wines was six or seven years ago. Jill and Steve Matthiasson hosted a crowd of wine bloggers/writers/tweeters to an al fresco buffet and tasting at their home/orchard/vineyard... Read more...

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Art & Wine: Tasting With the North Coast Rhone Rangers

Members of the North Coast Chapter of the Rhone Rangers are joining together to offer wine afficiandos a chance to taste Rhone wines from 15 wineries. The event is from 3-7 p.m. on Tuesday,... Read more...

Resonance Vineyard Sold to Maison Louis Jadot

Resonance Vineyard Sold to Maison Louis Jadot

Resonance Vineyard is in Oregon's Willamette Valley, not northern California. But it's a vineyard of significance and it's sale to Maison Louis Jadot is a stunner as Jadot has no other properties outside... Read more...

Araujo Estate Wine Dinner

Araujo Estate, one of Napa Valley’s most lauded wineries was just purchased by the owner of Bordeaux’ Chateau Latour. The move came as a surprise to many—the offer was even a surprise to Bart and... Read more...

Tickets remain for Sunday's West of West Wine Tasting

3rd Annual West of West Wine Festival 2013 showcases acclaimed West Sonoma Coast wines in weekend long event at The Barlow facility in Sebastapol. 40 top producers and growers will host the trade... Read more...

Wine Market Council Initiates U.S. Wine Club Study

New study will provide members with valuable wine club data   St. Helena, CA, July 29, 2013—Wine Market Council, the non-profit association of grape growers, wine producers, importers, wholesalers,... Read more...

La Follette Wines Launches Friday Night Music Series

Local Bands To Play at La Follette Tasting Room at The Barlow in Sebastopol   Sebastopol, CA (July 29, 2013) – La Follette Wines is adding to the attraction of its new tasting room at The... Read more...

Green Winery Opens Tasting Room at Solar Living Institute

In what I suspect is the first such tie-in ever, Mendocino County's Parducci Wine Cellars has opened a tasting room within the Real Goods Solar store at the Solar Living Institute in Hopland. This co-location... Read more...

Hess Collection Acquires MacPhail Family Wines

Small-lot Pinot Noir specialist James MacPhail has been producing high-end wines under the MacPhail Family Wines label since 2002. The wines, predominantly vineyard-designates from Sonoma Coast and... Read more...

Calling Everyone Called Raymond

I don't normally push winery promos. And, actually, I'm not pushing this one. But I do think it's fun. And it gives me an excuse to use the video clip above, for which I'm totally sure you'll thank me.... Read more...

Now Astronauts have an Excuse to Drink Red Wine on the Job

A study by the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology indicates that consumption of resveratrol can slow the effects that lack of exercise has on the human body. Resveratrol is found... Read more...

Gallo Buys Edna Valley Vineyard and Winery

E & J Gallo has signed an agreement to purchase Edna Valley Vineyards and Winery. The winery is currently owned by Diageo and Paragon Vineyard Company in a joint venture. Edna Valley Vineyards sources... Read more...

Crunk and Disorderly

An American is stirring up trouble in the UK. It’s not some out-of-control tourist though, or even an ex-pat one-word-named musician. It’s a drink. In a can. Read more...

French Wine Consumption Dropped 42% in the Past 60 Years

French wine consumption has dropped by 42% in just two generations. France is arguably the most famous country in the world for producing wine and for drinking it. But now, only 16.5% of the French... Read more...

Train to Produce Wine

The musical group Train has announced that it will be offering "Drops of Jupiter" Petite Sirah. Read more...

What's Worse than Bad Counterfeit Wine

Photo: David Haberthür You've heard about scams in which fake bottles of 1945 Lafite or the like are sold at auction to rich people for massive sums. But wine counterfeiters aren't proud. They'll rip... Read more...

Market Data

U.S. Wine Export Value Drops Less than Volume?

Wine Institute released new data on Friday showing that, while U.S. wine exports in the 4th quarter of 2009 were down, the news wasn't all bad. Overall, volume was down 14.9% and value 9.5%. Total revenue on exports was $911.8 million. Tom Johnson at Louisville Juice highlighted the somewhat surprising fact that, in a poor economy the average selling price of our exports was higher.

Digging into the Wine Institute press release further provides other interesting tidbits:
  • The European Union took roughly $380 million of our exports, but our volume and value to them decreased almost identically, 21% and 22% respectively.
  • In 2009, the U.S. became the largest provider of bulk wine to Japan, surpassing Chile.
  • Japan is our 3rd largest recipient of wine overall and took $79 million worth of wine. But while our bulk wine sales grew their by 42% in volume, the increase was only 34.4% by value.

If Europe was flat and Japan was way up in bulk volume, but not value, how did the value of our exports remain steadier than our volume?


It seems that Canada may have a lot to do with that. They are the 2nd largest importer of U.S. wine, taking $242 million worth in Q4. And, while their total purchases of our wine declined, including bulk, sales of our bottled wine there increased by 7%. Any time bulk sales decline relative to bottle, you're going to have an increase in value per liter.

The report highlighted Quebec in particular as being increasingly fond of our wines. 2009 saw our sales into Quebec go up by 23%. It seems that, even though the economy is down, the Canadians know good value when they see it. The decreases in bottle price for many fine U.S. wines that have been instituted to try to maintain cash flow is creating some great buying opportunities. There are deals to be had, just ask the Canadians.

U.S. Drinking Rate Reaches at 25 Year High

Guido Reni, c1623. Old Masters Picture Gallery, Dresden, Germany

The percentage of Americans who drink alcohol is now 67% according to a Gallup poll of U.S. adults. That is an increase from 64% the previous year. 1985 was the last time the drinking rate was as high as 67%. The highest rate since 1939 was 71% in 1977-78. The lowest rate in that period was 56% in 1990.

Record High 2010 Wine Shipments Make U.S. the World's Largest Wine-Consuming Nation


Wine Institute has announced that the United States is now consumed more wine in 2010 than any other country in the world. This is based on the volume of wine sold into a country from both domestic and foreign sources. On a consumption per capita basis, the United States is ranks just 56th (2008 data, Wine Institute). We consume roughly 10 liters per person annually vs. 53 liters for the French and 52 for Italians.

California continues to lead the way for U.S. wine production. It produced 61% of all wine consumed in the U.S. in 2010 and accounted for 90% of U.S. wine exports. The value of U.S. wine exports also increased by 25.6%. Read on for the full information release from Wine Institute.

Wine Market Council Initiates U.S. Wine Club Study

New study will provide members with valuable wine club data

wine market council
St. Helena, CA, July 29, 2013—Wine Market Council, the non-profit association of grape growers, wine producers, importers, wholesalers, and other affiliated wine businesses, today announced that this September the council will begin an in-depth survey of its members U.S. wine clubs.  The Wine Market Council Wine Club Survey will provide participating winery members with valuable data on the overall state of wine clubs, specific data on their own wine club and a comparison of their club to others across the country.
“The wine club study will be insightful for wineries of any size, at a fraction of the cost of hiring a research firm,” said John Gillespie, President of Wine Market Council.
The Wine Club Survey respondents will be asked specifics on why they joined each club, club benefits, winery visitation, club satisfaction, winery communications, club retention, and competition between wine clubs and other channels.  The resulting raw data will be given directly back to each winery and Wine Market Council will provide all members with an aggregated wine club survey report.  The survey questionnaire will be administered by wineries to club members via an online link, without Wine Market Council ever taking possession of their wine club email list.  
“The core of our business is to consistently exceed the expectations of our customers,” said Emma Swain, CEO of St. Supéry Estate Vineyards and Winery.  “The Wine Market Council’s wine club data will allow us to keep our promise of delivering extraordinary experiences to our loyal customers and we look forward to gaining this valuable insight.” 
How to Participate in the Wine Club Study
Participation in the Wine Club Study is offered to all Wine Market Council producer members.  Non-members can join Wine Market Council today by applying online at  Membership is open to wine producers, importers, wholesalers, grape growers, and other wine industry affiliated businesses and organizations.  Each member category has its own dues schedule and fees, and member applications are available online at
About Wine Market Council
Wine Market Council is a non-profit association of grape growers, wine producers, importers, wholesalers, and other affiliated wine businesses and organizations.  The council's mission is to establish the widespread acceptance of wine as a rewarding part of American culture and to report on timely issues and emerging consumer segments in the industry.  Wine Market Council provides its members with consumer research that is proprietary to Wine Market Council members, who incorporate it into their strategic planning, marketing and sales execution.  Wine Market Council was established in 1994 as a non-profit (501c6) trade association working through all tiers of the U.S. wine industry to grow the wine market.  More information can be found at and on Twitter @WineMktCouncil.