Category Archives: Wine Articles

The Luscious Wines of Middle Earth Are Enchanting Bay Area Imbibers

Northern  California is now the world’s biggest importer of New Zealand wines because local wine nuts are discovering the country’s expressive, vibrant varietals — including pinot noir, syrah and cabernet blends — are not just great price performers but come from a beautiful place at the forefront of sustainable winemaking. Real about it on KQED’s Bay Area Bites here.


Sipping & Supping at Local Wine Bars

wine bar-1Local wine bars are flourishing — and are a great place to try varied wines and compatible eats.

(Published by South Bay Accent magazine in August, 2016.)

Having been discovered 6,000 to 8,000 years ago, wine has long since seeped into human history and culture while being the optimal escort for food. Thus it’s no surprise that dining establishments where wine plays the major role — wine bars — have been around long before Copernicus realigned astronomy to a correct axis in the 16th century. In fact, he reportedly favored an Italian wine bar that was built in 1435.  Rudyard Kipling wrote his first novel in the London building housing Gordon’s — a famous wine bar launched in 1890 — while the oldest Parisian wine bar, Réserve de Quasimodo, sits quietly in the shadows of gothic Notre Dame cathedral and was a hangout of famous criminal Cartouche in 1715. Continue reading

Home “Wine Countries” Dotting the Bay Area

home vineyards

The image of strolling through lush vineyards while sipping a glass of wine made from the grapes isn’t just something seen in winery marketing materials. A growing number of one-percenters in the Bay Area are replacing their lawns with grapevines and shooting for more-than-just-drinkable vintages.  While these homeowners soon learn that lots of things can go wrong in farming, the siren song of Wine Country is hard to extinguish. Read all about it on KQED’s food and wine blog here.

New Seasonal Fruit-based Aperitifs from Sonoma County


Laura Hagar-Rush has launched a handmade aperitif business in a former winery in Penngrove, producing luscious, fragrant beverages made from exotic local fruit and herbs.

New-world aperitifs are definitely having a moment. It’s another example of how the farm-to-table movement featuring organic produce is reinventing classic products from earlier generations. Some of the most delicious, unique examples in the region are coming from Sonoma Aperitif, where proprietor Laura Hagar-Rush is using spectacularly aromatic heirloom fruit to concoct lovely, intense wine-based elixirs. Hagar-Rush offers an ever-changing selection that evolves with the seasons and includes oroblanco, Chinese quince, bergamot, Buddha’s hand and luscious blends such as fig-pear and cherimoya-jasmine. Read all about it on KQED’s food blog here.


A New Wine Model – Modern-Day Négociants

fall vineyardLaunching a new winery with vineyards now costs multi-millions of dollars in prime California wine regions so a new crop of passionate wine entrepreneurs is forgoing vineyards and sometimes even wineries to get into the business, following a new-world version of the French négociant model. The result for wine lovers is some superb, attractively priced wines.  Read all about it on KQED’s Bay Area Bites blog here.

Clos de la Tech

viewWith endless views of the Santa Cruz Mountains, the spare-no-expense winery of executive T.J. Rodgers is pushing the envelope.

(Published by South Bay Accent magazine in August, 2014. See following post on other millionaire’s wineries.

In Silicon Valley management vernacular, it’s one heck of a stretch goal: Make the best pinot noir in the world. This persnickety grape typically creates apoplexy for wineries striving to bend it to their will but to chip czar T.J. Rodgers, it’s just another task to be researched, planned and executed like designing the programmable circuits his San Jose company, Cypress Semiconductor, has been making since 1982. Continue reading

Local Millionaires in the Wine Biz

millionaires3Going into the often-unprofitable wine business is popular with local millionaires, some who plant vineyards around their mansions.

(Published by South Bay Accent in August, 2014.  See related piece in previous post.)

A much-repeated phrase about the wine business is that it’s the best way to turn a large fortune into a small fortune. This doesn’t seem to dissuade famous and wealthy — or just wealthy — individuals from planting vineyards and sometimes launching wineries. A partial list of celebrities who moonlight in the wine biz includes Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, Joe Montana, Madonna, rocker Mick Fleetwood, Wayne Gretzky, Pixar chief John Lasseter and politico millionaire Nancy Pelosi. Continue reading