Sunday, November 14, 2010

Heading to WordPress

Like so many before me, I have moved my blogging efforts to WordPress. You can find me at or

Friday, January 22, 2010

For the Love of Winemaking

As a Sommelier, part of my calling is to break wine into its component parts based on sight, smell, taste and my understanding of geography, grape varietals and regional winemaking styles. And while I can have dramatic impact on how a wine is presented, described, paired and, ultimately, enjoyed, the winemaker is really King (or Queen) in the mix.

While all great wines do indeed start with great grapes, the winemaker's influence really does make or break the final outcome of a wine. Part scientist, part artist, the winemaker must deliberate and labor over many variables and decisions during the process of shepherding fruit through to its ultimate destiny as fermented glory.

But a few of the decisions a winemaker is entrusted to make:
  • When to Harvest: juice flavor, sugar level, acidity, upcoming weather, skin conditions, rot conditions, seed ripeness.
  • Pressing/Crushing & Fermentation: sorting, pressing cuts, crushing vs. destemming only, use of SO2, yeast types, malolactic fermentation, acid and sugar correction, barrel choices, punchdown / pumpover regimen, temperature management
  • Aging: time in barrel, racking, blending, bottling
There are many confounding factors in making winemaking decisions. To learn more I rely on my friend, Aimee Baker, head winemaker at Pichetti Winery. She is teaching "Wine Appreciation: From Vineyard to Glass" on Monday Jan 25th and Feb 1st at Savvy Cellar Wines in Redwood City, CA. Come learn from her experience, gut feel and execution skills in making great wine. (Pre-registration required).

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Gobble, Gobble Tofurkey Time

It's time for the obligatory blog post about wine to pair with your Thanksgiving feast. Apologies for the lateness as it is Thanksgiving eve and the short week has slipped away.

Check out "Can't-fail guide to Thanksgiving wines" for a more traditional set of Thanksgiving wine recommendations. Laurie Daniel of the SJ Mercury News has a good article as well.

My hubby Brent weighed in last year with his "It's Cool Whip Time Baby!" post last year.

Let's take a peak at the wines that I brought home from the Savvy Cellar for our Thanksgiving celebration. We are doing a potluck with friends (10 adults, 5 kids) this year, complete with BBQ turkey, potatoes, dressing, gravy, broccoli slaw, mac & cheese and, yes, tofurkey - it is N. CA after all!

We'll start the festivities with a little Prosecco. Should be crisp, fruity, acidic and refreshing - a gentle start as the hoard walks through the door!
  • Chateau de Montfaucon from the Rhone Valley. 5-varietal blend dominated by viogner and marsanne. Bright, big, aromatic with plenty of acidity to cut through our fatty fare.
  • Talbot Chardonnay from Santa Lucia highlands. This is a CA chard drinkers' crowd please. Lush, buttery. I might have a sip or two pre-dinner. Will do well with butter basted turkey.
  • Georges DeBeouf Beaujolais Nouveau. So what does young french wine have to do with the quintessential America feast? Well, despite its simple flavor profile, this wine is fairly acidic and will not shy away from the big and competing flavors of a Thanksgiving spread.
  • Paraiso Pinot Noir. Bright sour cherry and cranberry on the nose along with balanced acidity make this an obvious choice.
More important than the wine or food, is the great appreciation I have for my family, friends and neighbors who'll skip out on their families to join us tomorrow.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Organic Winemaking with Jim Milone, Terra Savia

Apprentice winemaker Joel Kampfe interviews Jim Milone, winemaker with Terra Savia. Jim shares how is able to get tropical pina colada flavors in chardonnay while keeping alcohol low. He also shares how to soften tannins in Petit Verdot through maceration (soaking after fermentation) without wine turning to vinegar.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Terra Savia Wines

As part of our recent launch of Winemaker Wednesday at Savvy Cellar Wines, Winston Jones sat down to review three wines from Terra Savia. Joining Winston in reviewing the wines is none other than the winemaker himself, Jim Milone. Enjoy the reviews and enjoy the wines.

Jim Milone, Terra Savia Winemaker

Savvy Cellar kicked off a winemaker series last week, hosting Terra Savia winemaker Jim Milone. Jim sat down with my partner in crime, Brent Harrison, to discuss Terra Savia, organic farming and other topics around sustainability in practice in the vineyard and winemaking. Enjoy Jim's perspective and go forth and try his wines!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Wine is Not Always Serious

Every once in a while I find something amusing. Even less often I get surprised. So it came as a welcome break from the pressures of running a wine business in this grinding environment when one of my star peeps, Winston, made the following. I hope you enjoy (and giggle) as much as I did . . . . .