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John On Wine – State of the Disunion

This piece was originally published in the Ukiah Daily Journal newspaper on Thursday, September 3, 2015

With roughly three quarters of all the grapes grown in Mendocino County bought and used to make wine by Napa and Sonoma County wineries, why is it so hard to bring greater awareness of the quality of our wines to the greater wine drinking public?

The Anderson Valley Pinot Noir Festival is outstanding, and features what many consider to be the county’s most focused appellation and their best wines. In 2014, the dinner held the night before the event was well attended by wine media; this year, I found myself alone with the gathered winery owners and winemakers.

Taste of Mendocino, an event held in San Francisco to introduce restaurant and wine shop trade, distributors, and wine media to the bounty of the county, our wines and food, saw underwhelming attendance this year.

Hopland Passport attendance numbers have dipped in recent years, although the best wineries continue to increase their sales numbers from the event.

Too often, I see money wasted on marketers who promise the moon but can’t deliver the basics.

In Sonoma County, all of the wineries and vineyards belong to a single organization, are taxed and the resultant pool of money is used to increase the demand for Sonoma County wines and prices for their grapes. Two initiatives of note for the Sonoma County Vintners: conjunctive labelling and sustainable certification.

All wine produced in Sonoma County carries the name Sonoma County on the front label, with more precise geographic information allowed additionally, such as Dry Creek Valley or Murphy Ranch. County wide sustainable certification, even when it is a farcical sham, with (allegedly) cancer causing Monsanto Round Up, and even more egregiously toxic chlorpyrifos grown fruit receiving such certification, will allow greater market penetration for Sonoma County’s wines in health conscious outlets such as Whole Foods.

Lodi was once a name that winemakers would not put on a wine label, choosing California instead, as the general impression of Lodi grapes and the wines they produced was not favorable. Again, Lodi’s vineyards self-taxed and over the last twenty four years, the Lodi Winegrape Commission has done a great job, working with grape growers to improve viticulture, and wineries to make better wines. Lodi has a sustainability program that is not a sham, and worked with their growers to certify. Public relations and marketing efforts, constant and thoughtful, have led to increased grape prices and an acceptance of Lodi as a respected area for wine production.

Mendocino County once had a similar organization, the Mendocino Wine and Winegrape Commission (MWWC), but no longer. The group started poorly, with a scoundrel for a director embezzling funds from the group, and another directing business to their own company. It took a while, but eventually the group hired Megan Metz who did a good job promoting Mendocino County’s wines, but it was too little too late for the county’s vineyard owners and they voted MWWC out of existence after only five total years, and just two functional years, in operation, in a fit of myopic selfishness, over unrealized unrealistic expectations.

Megan Metz now heads up the Santa Cruz Mountains Winegrowers Association and is bringing a ton of the bay area’s consumers and trade to taste wines at the area’s wineries and events.

Lodi didn’t turn around their wine reputation or increase wine grape prices in two, or even five, years, but closer to twenty.

Our county is incredibly shortsighted and, worse, it is fractured. The Mendocino County wine scene isn’t just Hwy 128 vs. Hwy 101, but in each area there is division, with Yorkville cut off from Anderson Valley and Ukiah cut off from Hopland. Within the Anderson Valley, there is the Philo clique, and for Hopland there is the downtown crew. Meetings of each area’s local tourism group are often contentious.

Many wineries will not send wines for review or enter competitions, because of cheapness, and then complain that the county does not receive wine media coverage.

Out of the ashes of MWWC, the much smaller Mendocino Winegrowers, Inc. (MWI) was born, a voluntary dues paying collective of wineries and growers. Every winery and every vineyard should be paying members. If you own a winery or vineyard, and want to join and help increase the profile of our wines and prices for our grapes, visit MendoWine.com and then give Aubrey Rawlins a call at (707) 901-7629.

MWIlogo

Here are some more recommendations to improve the county’s reputation for wine and prices for grapes: Anderson Valley wines, along with all other wines made in county from our grapes, should have Mendocino County included on the label. Every winery should submit all of their wines to all major publications for review, and enter all of their wines in at least four major wine competitions each year. Every winery should be involved in public relations, marketing, and communications for each event they participate in. Best practice marketing should be introduced.

Bringing people to taste and buy our wines, wines labelled Mendocino County, and creating a genuine, not sham, county wide sustainability program, will increase demand, bring media attention, and yield higher prices for our grapes.

With a more robust MWI, events like Taste of Mendocino can be brought home and marketed to consumers, with invitations going out four months in advance, with follow ups three months, two months, one month, two weeks, one week, and two days out; and the marketing materials should be provided to each participating winery or food vendor, to send out the invitations to each of their email lists. Taste of Mendocino could be, should be, as successful as Winesong, but it would take increased participation from all of our wineries.

I would love to see wine writers asking us to come taste our wines, because of the disproportionate number of awards taken by Mendocino County wines in competition and staggering number of 90+ rated wines in review, because we created must-attend events through planning and cooperative marketing following best practices, because over and over wine labels carry Mendocino County’s name, because we defended and enhanced our claim of being “America’s greenest grape growers”, because we grew up and behaved like adults for the betterment of all instead of like petulant selfish children with no thought or plan for the future.

Until we start acting responsibly, in larger numbers, in a cooperative participatory manner, Napa and Sonoma County wineries will be happy to continue to buy our grapes on the cheap, and wine writers will continue to dismiss us as the county that couldn’t get along.

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John on wine – Two upcoming local wine events

Originally published in the Ukiah Daily Journal newspaper on Thursday, August 27, 2015

John Cesano holding down the McFadden tasting table at Winesong! 2014. Photo by Linda Compisi

On Saturday, Sept. 12, two of my favorite Mendocino County wine events are being held. One may be the county’s largest wine event for the year, the other is smaller but more dear to me. First, let’s start with my favorite: Testa Vineyards is having their 5th annual Blending Party from 6 to 11 p.m., and it is at Testa Ranch in Calpella, right here near Ukiah. Before making a Coro red blend, Maria Testa Martinson and husband Rusty Martinson had their Black wine, a blend of wines made from the different red grape varieties grown on Testa Vineyards.

The wine changes each year as different wines and percentages find their way into the mix and become the finished wine. I attended the first Testa barn blend party and sat with local industry luminary Kelly Lentz, and although we each had different ideas about what blend would yield the best wine, we came to find that it was nearly impossible to blend a bad wine from Testa’s juice. Last year, Maria announced that Testa’s sixth Black blend would rely heavily on the blend put together by the wine blend judged best at the 4th annual Testa Blending Party. I was honored to be one of three judges and, together with my fellow judges, we reconfirmed that there are many paths to a delicious Testa blend as we tasted through 25 different wines created by folks sitting at 25 different tables. This year, from 6 to 7 p.m., guests will enjoy appetizers and try to unleash their inner winemaker, blending Cabernet Sauvignon, Carignane, Zinfandel, and Petite Sirah into a possible winning blend.

From 7 to 8 p.m., it is scrumptious dinner time, with catering champs Bella Ciba returning. During dinner, the judges will pick this year’s Blending Party wine winner. Don Willis returns with his accordion to play early in the evening.

A hint to blend a winning wine: last year, the judges tasted each of the four blending wines and independently found we agreed upon our favorite, and unsurprisingly the winning blend was the one relying most heavily on that favored variety.

After dinner, from 8 to 10 p.m., DJ Bob will have the party guests up and dancing. Of course, this being Mendocino County, and a wine event, times may be flexible a bit, so show up on time, and roll with the flow.

The food is great, the blending is fun, the wine is terrific, the music is fantastic, and the Testa Family — Maria and Rusty, their kids, their aunts and uncles — they are all just the nicest people. Tickets are $80, Testa wine club members get a 25 percent discount, and with limited seating you’ll want to get your tickets early; tickets are nearly sold out. Visit TestaRanch.com/order, or call Maria at (707) 391-7273 to get your tickets now.

The second Sept. 12 wine event is Winesong, a charity auction and wine tasting, enjoying its 31st year, held at the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens located in Fort Bragg. More than 100 wineries will pour tastes, over 50 food purveyors will offer bites, and nine different musical groups will perform and entertain from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. during the Winesong wine and food tasting.

A charity auction runs from 2 to 5 p.m., with a special gourmet lunch additionally available. “The centerpiece of Winesong weekend is our Charity Auction, featuring both a silent and live auction.  Excitement builds in the Auction Tents with lively bidding for over 200 lots, featuring spectacular wines from the world’s most prestigious wine producers, rare vintages, large format bottles plus special vertical and horizontal collections.

Other auction highlights include original art from acclaimed California artists, vacations packages and highly coveted international wine getaway packages to Tuscany, South Africa, France, Spain, South America the Caribbean, and other enchanting parts of the world.  Rounding off the travel offerings are one and two night getaway trips to the West’s most romantic inns, resorts, and spas.  Coupled with the Wine & Food Tasting, the day can’t be beat…” is how the event website describes the most exciting part of the day’s events.

Winesong is presented by the Mendocino Coast Hospital Foundation with proceeds benefiting the Mendocino Coast District Hospital.

Tickets are $150 for the entire day, wine and food tasting, silent auction, and live auction, or $250 for reserve seating and a three course meal prepared by a celebrity chef to enjoy during the auction. To purchase tickets, or for more information, visit Winesong.org.

That’s it, two great events, just over two weeks away. Pick one, or the other, or — like me — both and I’ll see you on Saturday, Sept. 12, 2015.

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John On Wine – Mendocino County Wine Competition gold medal round up

Parts of this piece were previously published here at JohnonWine.com, and the entire piece was published as my weekly wine column in the Ukiah Daily Journal newspaper on Thursday, August 20, 2015


mwc gold

Over 250 wines were entered for judgement at the 37th annual Mendocino County Wine Competition, the oldest continuous wine competition in the nation, and 43 Gold Medals and 12 unanimous Double Gold Medals were awarded at a dinner held at the Mendocino County fairgrounds in Boonville on Friday, August 7, 2015. Two of the Double Gold Medal winners were also chosen for the competition’s Best of Show honors. Here are the big winners this year:

BEST OF SHOW – WHITE WINE
·NV McFadden Vineyard Sparkling Cuvée Brut, Made with Organically Grown Grapes, Estate Grown & Family Owned, Methode Champenoise, Potter Valley $25

NEW NV McF  Cuvee Brut

JOHN A. PARDUCCI AWARD – BEST OF SHOW – RED WINE
·2012 Panthea Winery & Vineyard Single Vineyard Selection Pinot Noir, Klindt Vineyard, Anderson Valley $42
__________

DOUBLE GOLD MEDAL WINNERS:

Blush and Rosé
·2014 Handley Cellars Rose of Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley $22

Late Harvest (Dessert) White
·2014 Husch Estate Bottled Late Harvest Gewurztraminer, Anderson Valley $25

Merlot
·2013 Bonterra Vineyards Made with Certified Organic Grapes Merlot $15

Petite Sirah
·2011 Barra of Mendocino Petite Sirah $22

Pinot Noir
·2012 Handley Cellars Estate Pinot Noir, RSM Vineyard, Anderson Valley $52
·2012 Lula Mendocino Pinot Noir $45
·2013 Blue Quail Estate Grown & Family Owned, Made from Organically Grown Grapes, Pinot Noir, McFadden Vineyard, Potter Valley $24
·2012 Panthea Winery & Vineyard Single Vineyard Selection Pinot Noir, Klindt Vineyard, Anderson Valley $42

Riesling
·2014 Navarro Vineyards Riesling Deep End Blend, Anderson Valley $29

Sauvignon Blanc
·2014 Handley Cellars Sauvignon Blanc, Anderson Valley $22

Sparkling Wine
·NV McFadden Vineyard Sparkling Cuvée Brut, Made with Organically Grown Grapes, Estate Grown & Family Owned, Methode Champenoise, Potter Valley $25

Zinfandel
·2012 Navarro Vineyards Old Vine Zinfandel $27

__________

GOLD MEDALS WINNERS:

Blended Red
·2011 Brutocao Family Vineyards Estate Bottled and Produced Quadriga, Hopland Ranches $24
·2012 Monte Volpe Barrel Aged Primo Rosso $11
·2013 Navarro Primo Rouge $15

Blended White
·2014 Navarro Vineyards Edelzwicker, Anderson Valley $16
·NV Testa Vineyard White Blend $20

Blush and Rosé
·2014 Seebass Family Wines Rose Fantasie, Seebass Vineyards $28

Cabernet Sauvignon
·2013 Barra of Mendocino Organically Grown Grapes Cabernet Sauvignon $20
·2013 Parducci True Grit Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon $30

Chardonnay
·2013 Moniker Wine Estates Chardonnay $25
·2014 Navarro Vineyards Chardonnay $19
·2013 Parducci Small Lot Blend Chardonnay $13

Gewurztraminer
·2014 Navarro Vineyards Gewurztraminer Cuvee Traditional, Anderson Valley $16

Italian Red
·2012 Monte Volpe Aglianico $28
·2012 Monte Volpe Barrel Aged Primitivo $28

Late Harvest (Dessert) White
·2013 Greenwood Ridge Vineyards Late Harvest Riesling, Mendocino Ridge $36
·2012 Stephen & Walker Botrytis Chardonnay, Mendocino Ridge $75

Other Red Varieties
·2013 Saint Gregory Barrel Aged Pinot Meunier $20

Other White Varieties
·2013 Bonterra Vineyards Made with Certified Organic Grapes Viognier $13
·2014 Enotria Moscato $11
·2013 Enotria Barrel Fermented Arneis $15
·2014 Husch Chenin Blanc $12

Petite Sirah
·2012 McNab Ridge Petite Sirah $18
·2012 Navarro Vineyards Petite Sirah $27

Pinot Gris/Grigio
·2014 Navarro Vineyards Pinot Gris, Anderson Valley $19.50

Pinot Noir
·2013 Drew Limited Selection Pinot Noir, Valenti Vineyard, Mendocino Ridge $45
·2013 Greenwood Ridge Vineyards Estate Bottled Pinot Noir, Mendocino Ridge $30
·2012 Handley Cellars Pinot Noir Mendocino $25
·2009 Harmonique Elegance’, Anderson Valley $48
·2012 Maggy Hawk Hawkster Anderson Valley Pinot Noir $66
·2012 Maggy Hawk Stormin’ Anderson Valley Pinot Noir $66
·2012 Spell Estate Pinot Noir, Alder springs Vineyard $50
·2012 Spell Estate Pinot Noir, weir Vineyard, Yorkville Highlands $50

Riesling
·2014 Greenwood Ridge Vineyards Riesling, Mendocino Ridge $19

Sauvignon Blanc
·2014 Brutocao Family Vineyards Estate Grown, Produced & Bottled Sauvignon Blanc, Feliz Vineyard $14
·2014 McFadden Vineyard Estate Grown & Family Owned, Made from Organically Grown Grapes, Sauvignon Blanc, Potter Valley $16
·2014 McNab Ridge Unoaked Sauvignon Blanc $12
·2014 Navarro Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc $18

Syrah
·2012 Handley Cellars Syrah, Kazmet Vineyard, Redwood Valley $25
·2012 Seebass Family Wines Grand Reserve, Estate Grown, Syrah, Mayacama Bench Block $42

Zinfandel
·2012 Parducci Small Lot Blend Zinfandel $12
·2012 Navarro Vineyards Zinfandel $19.50
·2012 Woodenhead Unfined & Unfiltered Zinfandel, Guido Venturi Vineyard $34
·2013 Woodenhead Unfined & Unfiltered Zinfandel, Mariah Vineyard, Mendocino Ridge $42

The results are spread throughout the county, and evenly; of the 55 wines taking Gold or better from wineries with a Mendocino County tasting room, the results were split right down the middle between Hwy 128 and Hwy 101 wineries. Another competition I always look at is the one between two of the county’s most prolific producers; this year Greg Graziano took six Gold or better to Navarro’s five Gold or better, but three of Navarro’s awards were Double Gold., so pretty much another draw.

The awards dinner was a treat. The food was terrific. Janelle Weaver served up McFadden organic grass fed beef, grilled corn, potato salad, and a green salad, with French bread. I got to sit with a lovely couple visiting from Philadelphia who read of the event in my column, we talked about wine, delicious places to eat in Philadelphia, and the Grateful Dead. I also saw many wine industry friends, winery owners, winemakers, tasting room staff, and competition judges, and was already in a great mood, applauding medal wins for friends, before the Gold, Double Gold, and Best of Show honors were announced for Guinness McFadden’s Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, and Sparkling Brut, respectively. The great news made an already lovely night even more magical, and I am grateful to the incredible team of volunteers and wine judges who made it all happen. Congratulations to everyone involved, winery participants, competition crew, chef team, consumer attendees, and to all the lucky tasters who will visit our county’s winery tasting rooms to sample these top medal winning wines.
__________

During the Mendocino County Fair and Apple Show, September 19 & 20, visitors will be able to taste flights of award-winning cider from the California Cider Competition on both Saturday and Sunday, and cast their vote for their top choice. Cider producers will also be on hand to consult about cider crafting and production.

The California Cider Competition is designed to help consumers find ciders they love and get to know the California cider makers that craft them. This annual event, the state’s only cider competition, is hosted by California’s one and only Apple Show at the Mendocino county Fair, now in its 91st year!

In colonial times, cider was America’s drink of choice for everyone from the Founding Fathers to pioneer families. Hard cider was commonly enjoyed with meals and also used as currency for trading. Now there is a cider renaissance spreading across the country.
The California Cider Competition features ciders made from California-grown apples. Much like premium winegrapes, apples develop different flavor profiles depending on the climate and other conditions in which they are grown.

Cider makers choose to enter in one of two divisions: 100% California apple or 80% California apple. (Some commercial ciders are produced with imported apple juice concentrate.)

For more information please visit http://www.CaliforniaCiderCompetition.com

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John on Wine: Summer vacation

Originally published in the Ukiah Daily Journal newspaper on Thursday, August 13, 2015

The metal band Gundriver visited the McFadden Farm Stand & Tasting Room and liked it. Photo by John Cesano

The metal band Gundriver visited the McFadden Farm Stand & Tasting Room and liked it. Photo by John Cesano

Few would choose Yuma, Arizona as a place to vacation in the summer but, as you read this, that is where I am. For those unfamiliar with Yuma in summer, pull out an illustrated Bible and flip to a picture of Hell. Same thing.

My son Charlie leaves for U.S. Army Infantry training at Ft. Benning, GA in two weeks, on Aug. 24, and we made plans to visit my step-father Lyle before Charlie leaves.

Joining the Army, and choosing to be an Infantryman, would not be my first choices for my son, but he follows in a long line of Cesano males who make questionable choices in youth.

I was a U.S. Army Infantry Sergeant. My brother showed up at the Army enlistment office. My father and step-father were both Army. The Cesano clan isn’t necessarily bright, but we serve.

While in Yuma, in an air conditioned house, we will enjoy tastes of Crispin Cain’s Rye Whiskey from Redwood Valley, and Zinfandel from throughout the county to go with meat cooked outside at night after temperatures drop to 90 or so.
__________

Charlie and I will also be visiting my brother Thomas just before Charlie leaves. Thomas is out with Kelly Clarkson, and we’ll see him in Mountain View on the off day preceding Kelly’s concert at Shoreline Amphitheatre. On a previous tour, earlier this year, my brother was out with the Michael Schenker (Scorpions, UFO) Group, and band members ordered wine to go on their tour bus when we caught their shows at Yoshi’s in Oakland.

Afterward, the opening band Gundriver came to Hopland, parked their bus in front of the tasting room, and ended up doing a wine tasting. It was great fun to see and pour for R Ev Jones, Tomes, Tom, Alex, and the whole Gundriver crew. Quite a bit of wine ended up going on that bus too.

Kelly’s production manager is a “wine head” and we’ll take the McFadden tasting room show on the road, with the help of the tour’s caterers, and do a tasting for the crew when we visit.

It is gratifying to spread the message about the quality of Mendocino County’s wines through unconventional outlets, and tastings for popular musicians is just one more way to do it.
__________

While Charlie and I are visiting my brother Thomas, on Saturday Aug. 22, the Yorkville Highlands Growers and Vintners Association will host the Yorkville Highlands Wine Festival at Meyer Family Cellars, 19750 Highway 128, Mile Marker 34.2 between Yorkville and Boonville. The event starts at 1 p.m.

This year’s festival will celebrate 13 years of wines from the Yorkville Highlands. Highlights will include tasting award-winning wines made and grown within the Highlands around Anderson Valley. Tickets are $60, and $30 for designated drivers; the price includes a delicious farm-fresh lunch and dessert, a silent auction, and a grape stomp. Head to Meyer Family Cellars for this year’s celebration of Yorkville Highlands wines.

Yorkville Highlands member wineries include: Bink Wines, Halcon Vineyards, Judson Hale Winery, Le Vin Estate Winery, Lone Oak Ranch Vineyards, Maple Creek Winery, Mariietta Cellars, Meyer Family Cellars, Route 128 Winery, Theopolis Vineyards, and Yorkville Cellars.

Visit http://www.yorkvillehighlands.org to purchase your tickets.
__________

Attend the Pure Mendocino Organic Dinner & Farm Tour on Saturday, Aug. 29, if you can, for a summer evening enjoying the perfect blend of Mendocino County’s bountiful harvest, generously offered by local farmers and producers. This unique celebration honors Mendocino County’s leadership in organics and community health, and is the major fund raising event for the Cancer Resource Centers.

Held at Paul Dolan’s Dark Horse Vineyard at 5341 Old River Road, Ukiah, attendees will enjoy a wine tasting and appetizers reception beginning at 5 p.m. with the farm-to-table dinner at 6 p.m., and, after dinner, dancing under the stars to live music from Mendocino’s talented selection of artists. A silent auction will run from 5 to 8:30 p.m..

Chef Olan Cox and friends will showcase the community’s finest organically grown food and wine. Participating wineries include Barra Vineyards, Bink Wines, Bonterra Vineyards, Frey Vineyards, Golden Cellars, Handley Cellars, Jeriko Estate, Masút Vineyards, McFadden Vineyards, Oster Wine Cellars, and Yorkville Cellars.

Tickets are $135, online at http://www.puremendocino.org.

Pure Mendocino is a memorable celebration of the uniqueness of this community, its people and our bounty. Nationally recognized, Cancer Research Center Mendocino County is the only direct-service organization of its kind in Mendocino County, and 100 percent of all donations stay in the county to provide information, support and advocacy services free of charge to those facing cancer.

CRCMC’s vision is that no one in Mendocino County faces cancer alone, and the funds raised at this dinner will help provide support services to over 300 people.

Please join Pure Mendocino in a commitment to the sustainability and care of our community. The feeling you will get helping fight cancer, making someone’s fight a little easier, will make you feel pride for having helped in your way. Again, please attend if you can.

mwc gold

Over 250 wines were entered for judgement at the 37th annual Mendocino County Wine Competition, the oldest continuous wine competition in the nation, and 43 Gold Medals and 12 unanimous Double Gold Medals were awarded at a dinner held at the Mendocino County fairgrounds in Boonville on Friday, August 7, 2015. Two of the Double Gold Medal winners were also chosen for the competition’s Best of Show honors. Here are the big winners this year:


BEST OF SHOW – WHITE WINE
·
NV McFadden Vineyard Sparkling Cuvée Brut, Made with Organically Grown Grapes, Estate Grown & Family Owned, Methode Champenoise, Potter Valley $25


JOHN A. PARDUCCI AWARD – BEST OF SHOW – RED WINE
·
2012 Panthea Winery & Vineyard Single Vineyard Selection Pinot Noir, Klindt Vineyard, Anderson Valley $42
__________


DOUBLE GOLD MEDAL WINNERS:

Blush and Rosé
·2014 Handley Cellars Rose of Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley $22

Late Harvest (Dessert) White
·2014 Husch Estate Bottled Late Harvest Gewurztraminer, Anderson Valley $25

Merlot
·2013 Bonterra Vineyards Made with Certified Organic Grapes Merlot $15

Petite Sirah
·2011 Barra of Mendocino Petite Sirah $22

Pinot Noir
·2012 Handley Cellars Estate Pinot Noir, RSM Vineyard, Anderson Valley $52
·2012 Lula Mendocino Pinot Noir $45
·2013 Blue Quail Estate Grown & Family Owned, Made from Organically Grown Grapes, Pinot Noir, McFadden Vineyard, Potter Valley $24
·2012 Panthea Winery & Vineyard Single Vineyard Selection Pinot Noir, Klindt Vineyard, Anderson Valley $42

Riesling
·2014 Navarro Vineyards Riesling Deep End Blend, Anderson Valley $29

Sauvignon Blanc
·2014 Handley Cellars Sauvignon Blanc, Anderson Valley $22

Sparkling Wine
·
NV McFadden Vineyard Sparkling Cuvée Brut, Made with Organically Grown Grapes, Estate Grown & Family Owned, Methode Champenoise, Potter Valley $25

Zinfandel
·2012 Navarro Vineyards Old Vine Zinfandel $27

__________

GOLD MEDALS WINNERS:

Blended Red
·2011 Brutocao Family Vineyards Estate Bottled and Produced Quadriga, Hopland Ranches $24
·2012 Monte Volpe Barrel Aged Primo Rosso $11
·2013 Navarro Primo Rouge $15

Blended White
·2014 Navarro Vineyards Edelzwicker, Anderson Valley $16
·NV Testa Vineyard White Blend $20

Blush and Rosé
·2014 Seebass Family Wines Rose Fantasie, Seebass Vineyards $28

Cabernet Sauvignon
·2013 Barra of Mendocino Organically Grown Grapes Cabernet Sauvignon $20
·2013 Parducci True Grit Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon $30

Chardonnay
·2013 Moniker Wine Estates Chardonnay $25
·2014 Navarro Vineyards Chardonnay $19
·2013 Parducci Small Lot Blend Chardonnay $13

Gewurztraminer
·2014 Navarro Vineyards Gewurztraminer Cuvee Traditional, Anderson Valley $16

Italian Red
·2012 Monte Volpe Aglianico $28
·2012 Monte Volpe Barrel Aged Primitivo $28

Late Harvest (Dessert) White
·2013 Greenwood Ridge Vineyards Late Harvest Riesling, Mendocino Ridge $36
·2012 Stephen & Walker Botrytis Chardonnay, Mendocino Ridge $75

Other Red Varieties
·2013 Saint Gregory Barrel Aged Pinot Meunier $20

Other White Varieties
·2013 Bonterra Vineyards Made with Certified Organic Grapes Viognier $13
·2014 Enotria Moscato $11
·2013 Enotria Barrel Fermented Arneis $15
·2014 Husch Chenin Blanc $12

Petite Sirah
·2012 McNab Ridge Petite Sirah $18
·2012 Navarro Vineyards Petite Sirah $27

Pinot Gris/Grigio
·2014 Navarro Vineyards Pinot Gris, Anderson Valley $19.50

Pinot Noir
·
2013 Drew Limited Selection Pinot Noir, Valenti Vineyard, Mendocino Ridge $45
·2013 Greenwood Ridge Vineyards Estate Bottled Pinot Noir, Mendocino Ridge $30
·2012 Handley Cellars Pinot Noir Mendocino $25
·2009 Harmonique Elegance’, Anderson Valley $48
·2012 Maggy Hawk Hawkster Anderson Valley Pinot Noir $66
·2012 Maggy Hawk Stormin’ Anderson Valley Pinot Noir $66
·2012 Spell Estate Pinot Noir, Alder springs Vineyard $50
·2012 Spell Estate Pinot Noir, weir Vineyard, Yorkville Highlands $50

Riesling
·2014 Greenwood Ridge Vineyards Riesling, Mendocino Ridge $19

Sauvignon Blanc
·2014 Brutocao Family Vineyards Estate Grown, Produced & Bottled Sauvignon Blanc, Feliz Vineyard $14
·2014 McFadden Vineyard Estate Grown & Family Owned, Made from Organically Grown Grapes, Sauvignon Blanc, Potter Valley $16
·2014 McNab Ridge Unoaked Sauvignon Blanc $12
·2014 Navarro Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc $18

Syrah
·2012 Handley Cellars Syrah, Kazmet Vineyard, Redwood Valley $25
·2012 Seebass Family Wines Grand Reserve, Estate Grown, Syrah, Mayacama Bench Block $42

Zinfandel
·2012 Parducci Small Lot Blend Zinfandel $12
·2012 Navarro Vineyards Zinfandel $19.50
·2012 Woodenhead Unfined & Unfiltered Zinfandel, Guido Venturi Vineyard $34
·2013 Woodenhead Unfined & Unfiltered Zinfandel, Mariah Vineyard, Mendocino Ridge $42

The results are spread throughout the county, and evenly; of the 55 wines taking Gold or better from wineries with a Mendocino County tasting room, the results were split right down the middle between Hwy 128 and Hwy 101 wineries. Another competition I always look at is the one between two of the county’s most prolific producers; this year Greg Graziano took six Gold or better to Navarro’s five Gold or better, but three of Navarro’s awards were Double Gold., so pretty much another draw.

The awards dinner was a treat. The food was terrific. Janelle Weaver served up McFadden organic grass fed beef, grilled corn, potato salad, and a green salad, with French bread. I got to sit with a lovely couple visiting from Philadelphia who read of the event in my column, we talked about wine, delicious places to eat in Philadelphia, and the Grateful Dead. I saw many wine industry friends, winery owners, winemakers, tasting room staff, and competition judges, and was already in a great mood, applauding medal wins for friends, before the Gold, Double Gold, and Best of Show honors were announced for Guinness McFadden’s Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, and Sparkling Brut, respectively. The great news made an already lovely night even more magical, and I am grateful to the incredible team of volunteers and wine judges who made it all happen.

NEW NV McF  Cuvee Brut

Congratulations to everyone involved, winery participants, competition crew, chef team, consumer attendees, and to all the lucky tasters who will visit our county’s winery tasting rooms to sample these top medal winning wines.

Ron Washam is the subject of legal threats after writing a satirical piece about Georg Riedel and his stemware

Ron Washam is the subject of legal threats after writing a satirical piece about Georg Riedel and his stemware

Recently, I wrote about one of my favorite online writers, Ron Washam, “Ron writes satirically about wine, online wine writing, and wine marketing for his popular Hosemaster of Wine blog,” and about the pin Ron brings to “the overinflated pretentiousness that pervades the marketing of wine.”

Three days ago, Ron wrote a satirical piece about Riedel stemware, Riedel me this, which was posted to Tim Atkin MW’s site.

Georg Riedel has made a fortune with his wine glasses, creating differently shaped stemware for nearly every existing varietal, and convincing a large population of wealthy oenophiles that his very expensive (one single Sommeliers Black Tie Bordeaux Grand Cru wineglass will set you back $171.23 if ordered from RiedelUSA’s website – including tax but excluding shipping!) stemware is absolutely essential to proper enjoyment of wine. How about a set of four, or eight, or twelve of these? Now you need the proper glasses for Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, Zinfandel, Syrah, Sparkling…it doesn’t end!

There is absolutely nothing wrong with spending the equivalent of a year at a fine university for your children on wine glasses, and the addition on your palace to house that assembled stemware. More power to you if you are as wealthy as Georg Riedel; but this is clearly appropriate material for satire.

Yesterday, Georg Riedel responded, through lawyers, threatening Ron, demanding the satirical piece be “immediately be removed from public circulation,” and a retraction be posted, while holding over Ron a threat of a libel law suit for defamation, claiming “immense harm.”

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This seems a dick move. Georg Riedel seems to be a humorless dick. Personally, I couldn’t drink wine from a Riedel glass and think the wine is not tainted by dick at this point.

Seriously, Georg, you could have merely sat on your incredible mountain of money, read and dismissed Ron’s piece, been flattered that your aggressive marketing of expensive wine glasses has made you worthy of a momentary pin prick of satire, and ignored it. A couple of thousand people would have seen the piece and it would have been over. Instead you chose to unleash your lawyers, making demands, and threaten a satirist. All you have accomplished is to ensure that many more people will see the piece, as your action is much more newsworthy than the original article; that, and engender a hugely negative impression among the community of wine writers who hear about what can be described as a dick move.

I have a host of different Ultima wine glasses, at just $10 each, that are excellent. Incredibly durable, and shaped well. I am incredibly pleased with them, and I can attest there is nary a whiff of dick when used for wine enjoyment.

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John on Wine – Mendo’s own wine competition, and more

This piece will run in the Ukiah Daily Journal newspaper on Thursday, August 6, 2015; I am posting it online earlier to urge locals to get tickets to this Friday’s Mendo Wine Comp Awards Dinner before they sell out.

Tomorrow, Friday, August 7, wine judges will assemble here in Mendocino County. Wine writers, wine buyers, sommeliers, and various other critical tasters will judge the wines of Mendocino County for our 37th annual wine competition, the oldest continuously held wine competition in the United States. I’ll share the results for a column in two weeks.

Today, I’ll point you to the link to get tickets to tomorrow evening’s award announcement dinner: http://www.mendowine.com/events/awardsceremony.php

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The Awards Dinner and Ceremony will be held at the Mendocino County Fairgrounds’ Redwood Grove in Boonville at 6:30 pm, Friday August 7, 2015. Tickets are $60.

This year’s awards dinner features The Bewildered Pig, who will also debut this year with their namesake restaurant in Anderson Valley. The locally-sourced menu of The Pig’s unique, refined yet rustic comfort food will be a dual celebration, showcasing the best wine and food Mendocino County has to offer.

Join the esteemed judges, winery owners and winemakers, sample from among over 200 Mendocino County wines and toast the winners! The dinner is fun, with the crowd jeering mispronunciations of grape varieties, winemaker names, and winery names, and cheering wins by their friends and favorite appellations. A few years back, I sat with a table of Potter Valley winery folks, and we cheered wildly for every medal awarded a Potter Valley winery, with equal gusto for Bronze, Silver, Gold, or unanimous Double Gold. We dubbed ourselves ‘the kids table’ and I was worried we might have gone overboard, but the night’s announcer, Heidi Cusick Dickerson, said afterward that she wished every table had been as enthusiastic.

Come out and join us tomorrow, it really is a fun way to celebrate the best of Mendocino County’s wines.
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Eugene Gonsalves pours wine at both McFadden and Graziano in Hopland, and is a joy to work with. Eugene also takes time off to travel the world, and sends notes from his travels, often writing in my voice, in the style of my wine columns, in a jestful satirizing of those pieces.

Most recently, I heard that Eugene was with family in Santa Barbara, and I pointed him toward nearby Ventura and Spencer Makenzie’s world famous fish tacos. Initially, Eugene thought I was pointing him to Ventura because of the great past shows by the Grateful Dead, and although I had indeed seen Bob Weir there, this tip was all about the food. Here’s his review:

“Spencer Makenzie’s, the Irish/English Mexican restaurant, with a New York diner flair! We were met with “un-naked hospitality” by our waitress.

The boys had grilled shrimp with grilled veggies, grandpa style – not spicy.
Jason and Sandra indulged in all the sauces and broke in song, “Hot, Hot, Hot!” Not a Grateful Dead hit, but perfectly appropriate for their fish/shrimp burrito, which they gave a 5 star rating.

Given that it was so close to the ocean, one would expect rip off tourist prices. Unlike some European countries where there are 2 menus – one for locals and one for tourists, these were all local prices.

A glass of McFadden 2013 Gewürztraminer would have made the experience extraordinary!

Thanks for the recommendation. We all enjoyed the food.”

First, I have to say that I am thrilled that the simple but spectacularly flavorful food was as delicious when Eugene visited as when I last ate there many years ago. It always saddens me when a place you once had a spectacular meal falls in quality over time. Second, note that Eugene thought about what wine would make the food sing as beautifully as Jerry Garcia on Stella Blue. Next time you are grabbing food to go, and taking it home, crack a bottle of wine open, and make your meal more delicious, more special.
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I’ve written before about Saracina’s stunning grounds with an array of picnic tables, tables & chairs under big umbrellas, weeping willows with seating underneath.

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Well, now Saracina has a fully stocked deli case in their tasting room, along with hampers, cutting boards/knives and napkins for guests. The new deli fridge has all the provisions needed to pair with a bottle of wine for a wonderful afternoon, including: brie, camembert, salami, assorted flavors of jack cheese, olives, crackers and fruit. All these items are also available for sale to go, for folks heading to the redwoods or the coast, but just taking a little time out at Saracina with wine, food, and comfortable places to enjoy it all seems like the best choice to me.
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The next time that you come to Hopland for wine tasting, visit Steep Organic Coffee & Tea in the big two story yellow Vintage Marketplace building for an affogato. Now my grasp of the Italian language is shaky at best, so I may be wrong in my belief that affogato translates into English as buttface cat, and I am confident that if you order an avocado they’ll figure out that you wanted an affogato, but I am 100% certain you will love this treat after summer wine tasting. An affogato is a scoop of ice cream with an espresso poured over it. Oh my, is it good. Stop in next door, at McFadden, to tell me if you agree after you try one.

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