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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 The content here is no longer being updated.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...

Wine Business

Vinfolio Purchased and Relaunched

Vinfolio, a San Francisco-based company providing online services, physical storage and sales for wine, ran into serious financial difficulties earlier this year. The company has been seeking new funding or some other way to continue it's operations. Today, R.S.T., Inc., a Delaware-based company, announced that it had formed a subsidiary company called VF Wine, Inc. which had in turn acquired all of the assets of Vinfolio. VF Wine will be re-launching Vinfolio under the same name. R.S.T., Inc., whose principal investor is Jon Moramarco of Wine Colleagues, has fully-funded the new Vinfolio which starts business with no debt. The new company, however, did not assume the debts or liabilities of the previous Vinfolio company, though VF Wine has indicated an intent to work toward satisfying claims from those who supplied wine to Vinfolio but have not yet been compensated.

The new Vinfolio enters business with many of the previous company's employees on-board. It also appears that the company intends to maintain the primary services for which the prior business had been known including the online services, store and marketplace and the wine storage facility. However, the company is launching a search for a new CEO as R.S.T., Inc does not intend to be responsible for day-to-day management of Vinfolio on an on-going basis.

The company says that it will try to honor pre-arrival orders placed with the previous company. Those customers whose pre-arrival orders can't be fulfilled will receive a coupon for the same dollar amount. Pre-arrival customers should expect an email from Vinfolio soon with further information. Similarly, the company says that store credits will carry over to the new company.

For more specific information, Vinfolio offers these contact points:

  • Buying inquiries: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • Selling inquires: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • Storage and all other inquiries: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The full press release is available at

That's a Low Price!


You can't get much in London for £1.11. You can get a copy of The Times, but only a weekday edition. You might be able to get a pack of gum. You'll need to scrounge up a few more coins to get through the turnstiles of the London Tube. But at Tesco for just £1.11 you can get a full bottle of wine. Or at least you could until the government found out.

The average bottle of wine the in UK bears £2.33 just in taxes. However, in an effort to reduce inventory of Silver Rock Chardonnay, a Bulgarian wine, TESCO chopped the price to as little as £1.11.

The British government has been trying to keep wine prices from getting too low, presumably as part of their effort to combat excess drinking. (They have also reduced the maximum allowable serving size for wine in pubs.) £1.11 for a bottle of wine is probably not what the government had in mind. [Off License News]

Leafroll Makes Wine Growers See Red


When you hear the term leafroll, the first thing that may come to mind is the piles of leaves you jumped in when you were a kid. Unfortunately, leafroll is no fun and getting rid of it is not child's play. Leafroll is a virus which can affect, among other plants, grape vines. It affects vines throughout the world, reducing yields, delaying ripening, impairing color and generally making vineyard managers very unhappy.

Vineyards full of bright red leaves make beautiful Fall photos, but the festive coloring is an indication of leafroll. The virus is spreak by certain mealybugs and eliminating them and the virus isn't easy. Sprays and the like aren't very effective. The best way to solve the problem is to replant the vineyard on resistant root stock. As you can imagine, that is a very expensive proposition. It also means the vineyards are starting over with young vines rather than the mature on'es they've been nurturing to achieve maximum complexity in the wine.

If you'd like to learn more about the disease and it's impact, here are some good articles. Alice Feiring wrote for the SF Chronicle today about the impact of leafroll these days in Napa. This problem isn't new though. Here's an article by Mark Greenspan for Wine Business Monthly in March, 2008 that talks about the rapid spread of leafroll. For a technical discussion of the role of mealybugs in leafroll, see this research article from U.C. Davis.

This article is original to Copyright 2010 NorCal Wine. All rights reserved. Photo by Fred Swan of NorCal Wine.

Survey of American Wine Writers Shows Key Shifts in Wine Media


Tom Wark heads up Wark Communications, a public and media relations firm for the wine industry. He is also responsible for Fermentation: The Daily Wine Blog, one of the industries best blogs. [Follow the link. The url is neither or] He conducted a comprehensive survey of wine writers this year and has just published the results. It's an excellent piece of work and should be of great interest to writers, publicists, wine marketers and consumers who like to read about wine. I've included his comments on the survey below, verbatim, along with a link to the survey.

Supreme Court Asked to Hear Wine Shipping Case


Wine retailers are taking their fight for equal treatment of in-state and inter-state wine shippers to the next level. The text below describes the current situation. It's taken from a Specialty Wine Retailers Association press release, but I've edited it to remove opinion and spin.

In asking the Supreme Court of the United States to grant a review of the case of Wine Country Gift Baskets v. Steen, a coalition of American wine retailers hopes the high court will to bring a definitive end to the ongoing interstate trade war over the direct shipment of wine.  The battle over direct shipment of wine is one that rages on even in the wake of the groundbreaking 2005 Granholm v. Heald Supreme Court wine case, but that has switched battle grounds from wine producers to wine retailers.