For March there could only be one winner, an amazing trip out to Napa and Sonoma with the California Wine Industry. Wast Coast US wine’s got a special place in my heart for the rest of my life. Great trip, great people, and great wines!
“MARCH: Cakebread Merlot, Napa Valley, 2013
In March I went on a wino’s press trip of a lifetime (or for me at least) and headed off to California to visit Napa and Sonoma. Not only did I get to taste some wonderful wines, but I also met some friends for life.
The week gave me a much better feeling for the taste of the wine styles out there, and also helped me put the prices (which can put many off) into a better context. My top wine from there was Cakebread Cellar’s 2013 Merlot.
It’s by no means the best wine I tried out there, but that’s the wine we used when myself, Bruce Cakebread, Eleanor Standon from R&R, and Ashford Castle’s top drawer sommelier, Phillip Dunne, nailed the pizza-pairing competition. If we’d have let him, Phil would still be there drizzling olive oil on it with a teaspoon. Chef would be proud, my lad!”
Wine behemoth E&J Gallo is fast closing in on a hundred years of business. Little did brothers Ernesto and Julio know when they started peddling wine after the repeal of prohibition in 1933, that their company would be so vast, and (crucially) still in family hands. I caught up with Paul Sorrentino at the Californian Wine Party earlier this year to ask him what it’s like to work for the largest family owned wine business in the world…
I’ve just sent off my California wine pieces to the editor at The Buyer. It’s the online wine magazine I write for in the UK. I’m really chuffed that they’ve backed me the way they have and hopefully I’ve not written anything too daft just yet! Following on from my great trip out to San Fransisco to visit Napa and Sonoma, I’ve finally finished off the three pieces I’ve written, and number one is online now!!
I didn’t really know how to approach this one. There’s going to be stigma about marijuana for a long time to come even though it’s now legal in California. It’s just another crop that the vines have to compete with for space, labour, and water. As I was finding out in my recent trip to the West Coast of the US, it’s a fight that the wine guys are pretty nervous about!
This was the Wednesday of the week and we were half way in. We’d seen some sights, tasted great wines, and were perversely all getting on really well as a group which doesn’t always happen on these things. Or at least I think we were, maybe they just didn’t tell me!
I’m not even sure how to describe some of the scenes from Day 4 but I’ll have go. We had a couple of vineyard visits that couldn’t have been more different if they tried, met up with one of Napa’s top somms for a glass or two of something special, and ended up at yet another belting dinner washed down with some top wines. All in a day’s work.
Well we’ve all made it safe and sound. The California trip has started and the long hours in the plane out to San Fransisco are nearly out of all our systems. There’s a group of about 12 of us, which is enough to make me a little bit nervous and self-conscious, but sod it, the nervous “just keep talking” has kicked in and I don’t think I’ve annoyed too many of them yet 🙂
I’ve only ever been to the States with work in my old job. So I’ve done the Manhattan and Brooklyn thing, and even had a couple of days up in Boston with the most blinding hangover I can remember in years! But I’ve never been over the West Coast. My brother-in-law lived there for four years and loved every minute. Wine-o friends of mine, notably Ant Davies of @CheltenhamGrape, went on a tour and have never been the same since. It’s right up there on my to-do list. And then an email turned up…