Today was a freaky good day at work in the McFadden tasting room, and then at home. Busy as hell, but spread out perfectly, allowing me to keep up on hand washing and buffing wine glasses. Two wine club sign ups. A friend of Guinness, my boss, will likely be making Coro release party dinner reservations for himself and his wife. Lots of wine and meat sold in advance of the Memorial Day weekend.

All that’s just good.

Freaky good is a 14.29% pay raise. Freaky good is getting another six-month marketing job. Freaky good is getting an expense paid invite to fly to Hawaii and stay at a resort for six days with three days of work to do. Like three bolts of lightning, all that happened. Today was freaky good.

As much as one wall in my house is screaming for a big screen TV, I think I’ll be putting the extra money toward a new-to-me used car with fewer miles and much better gas mileage. Heck, the money I save on gas might just pay for a big screen TV before too long.

I got a huge resupply of meat, wine, olive oil, herbs, wild rice and employee pay checks right at closing which kept me over an extra hour late making sure things got put away, but as I got the raise with the resupply, it was all good. That, and we really needed the resupply before tomorrow.

Tomorrow is going to be really busy with lots more people stopping in to get set with wine and food from our farm for the long weekend.
____

I went to dinner at Sho Ka Wah Casino in Hopland tonight. Sho Ka Wah has partnered with several area lodging and winery tasting rooms to offer their guests greater value to their Player’s Club membership. We’ll soon be a featured winery at Sho Ka Wah, so I wanted to see what that actually meant.

First, the food was terrific. I had Prime Rib ($7.77 on Thursday for Player’s Club members, and the membership card is free). The meat was perfectly done, and I ordered mine with salad, baked potato, and grilled garlic green beans. I also had a $5 glass of Gold Medal winning Merlot made from Mendocino County grapes by my Hopland winery neighbor, and friends, at Weibel.

There were several tables enjoying wine with dinner, which was heartening to see.

The promotional efforts for a featured winery by Sho Ka Wah were impressive, with large signage, prominent placement on the wine list, and laminated full color table cards suggesting glasses or bottles of wines from the featured winery.
_____

I’m working a wine event in San Francisco on June 11, Taste of Mendocino (#TOM12 for you twitterers).  Wineries, breweries, farmers, crafters, artists, and entertainers bring much of what makes Mendocino County amazing and presents it in the city for the trade, press, and general public to experience.

Taste of Mendocino leads to lots of great press, sales, and subsequent visits for the participants.

Last year Guinness poured at Taste of Mendocino with his daughter who lives in San Francisco, Anne-Fontaine. This year, something came up, so I’m doing the pouring.

Guinness told me today that he’ll be loaning me a farm vehicle to drive to San Francisco as my van has more miles than it takes to go to the moon and is missing on two of six cylinders, which results in a less than optimum ride and atrocious mileage.

Did I mention things are going freaky good today?
_____

Tomorrow morning, I get cable TV installed at my new apartment. Tomorrow afternoon, I head into work before escaping with all three days of a three-day weekend off. Tomorrow evening, I have a good friend coming from Santa Rosa with a dresser and mirror for me and we’ll have wine and dinner in my new place.

I think my son intends to have a friend stay over tomorrow night, so dinner may be unfancy and easy: pizza, but good pizza. Pizza made better by wine for the adults and better by soda for the teens.

_____

Wineries I have to mention soon because I forgot them in a recent post of some of my favorites: Testa Vineyards in Calpella, Sonoma-Cutrer in Santa Rosa (they say Windsor, but whatev), Topel with vineyard in Hopland and tasting room in Healdsburg, Toad Hollow in Healdsburg, and Keller Estates in Petaluma.

Also coming soon-ish will be actual wine reviews when I taste seven rosé wines in seven days. The lucky seven include

2010 Testa Vineyards Rosé of Carignane – Mendocino,

2010 Monte Volpe (Graziano) Sangiovese Rosato – Mendocino,

2009 Cesar Toxqui Cellars Rosé (of Zinfandel) – Mendocino,

2010 Muscardini Rosato di Sangiovese – Monte Rosso Vineyard,

2011 Toad Hollow Dry Rosé of Pinot Noir – Sonoma County,

2011 V. Sattui Winery North Coast Rosé, and

2010 Chimney Rock Rosé of Cabernet Franc – Stags Leap District Napa Valley.

3 purchased, 2 gifts, and 2 samples sent to me by folks hoping for a review. I also know that “lucky seven” wines was a bit of lazy writing, wines aren’t lucky, but I wanted to write lucky seven and fortune is smiling on me today, and will likely continue to do so, if for no other reason than I’ll be enjoying these wines very soon.

_____

Get out of your house this three-day weekend and visit a winery tasting room near where you live. Find a wine you genuinely like and buy it. If you don’t find a wine you love, hurray, you’ve saved yourself from buying a bottle untasted at Costco that you wouldn’t have loved.  If the person pouring wines for you educates and entertains, if they do a really good job, throw them a tip. Trust me, they’ll appreciate it.

Oh, and just because you didn’t like Chardonnay, don’t assume they are all the same – they aren’t. Try every wine you can. If you like it, great. If you love it, better, buy it. If you don’t love it, pour the remainder in the bucket provided. No one likes everything, but you should at least try wines being offered. Today, I poured Riesling for someone who “hates” Riesling and of course they bought two bottles of it. Why? Because not all Rieslings are the same. Oh, and because today was a freaky good day.

I hope some of you took the chance to attend the Sonoma County Harvest Fair and taste some of the over 1,000 wines available to taste. I would love to sit down with a judge and find out how back to back days of tastings of around 100 wines can be accomplished while giving a fair taste to all of the wines submitted.

There is a phenomenal wine writer who doesn’t have much use for wine bloggers beyond the fodder they make for some of his best writing. Ron Washam, Hosemaster of Wine, is also a Sonoma County Harvest Fair judge.

There are more mockably horrible wine blogs than useful wine blogs offering value. Washam, in his Hosemaster role, points out the absurdity of many, perhaps most famously the blog that pairs wine and kaftans. No, Kaftan is not a food that pairs nicely with wine, but a piece of women’s clothing. I believe that Washam spearheaded a movement to see Wines and Kaftans awarded a Wine Blogger Award this year.

I empathize with Washam’s pain in dipping into the pool of mediocrity that is most wine blogging. The only good is that, by contrast, my writing is tolerable. My personal moment of horror came when I was but one of only two wine writers attending a press event hosted by a winery that wanted coverage of an announcement. Over lunch, the other writer was asked by a winemaker about his writing, and I died inside when he said he pairs wine and 50’s television shows. Trapped by rules of etiquette, I couldn’t leave in disgust, or ask aloud, “are you kidding me?” Put on the spot, asked for an example, he paired the Chardonnay we were tasting with Dragnet, explaining that you would have to drag a very wide net to find a Chardonnay so memorable. I was nearly ill on the spot. I wanted to ask my hosts if they considered us equals, if his worthlessness was what they saw when they looked at me.

When I got home and looked up his website, I found that he had used the Dragnet pairing only days before and for a completely different wine. He was not only a jack ass, but his little parlor trick uniqueness was purely shamtastic.

I recognize that everyone who opens himself up by writing, also opens himself up for judgment and ridicule. I am okay with that, I don’t put on airs, or take myself too seriously. I know what I know, and I try to share it. I write about what interests me, what grabs my attention. But I know my words will never elevate me into the ranks of the world’s most read and respected wine writers and reviewers. I write because I enjoy it, and I am gratefully amazed that people find their way to my site to read my meandering prose.

Back to Ron Washam, in his role as a wine judge; I would love to ask Washam if, when tasting 100 Sonoma County Chardonnays, a number in the California over sweet, barrel fermented, malolactic style, a more subtle French styled Chardonnay, like those submitted by Sonoma-Cutrer just get overlooked, either through palate fatigue or because they are different. Is a wine of French styling punished for not being typically Sonoma County?

Seriously, I am entertained with his writing so much that I would just like to meet him for a beer and let him hold forth on just about any topic.

Besides the head scratchingly poor performance of Sonoma-Cutrer’s Chardonnays (which I love) with the judges at the Sonoma County Harvest Fair, another disappointment was the absence of some of my other favorite winery’s wines. I would love to taste the Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays of Keller Estates against those of Sonoma-Cutrer, and against the wines of each varietal awarded Best of Class honors.

Often as I tasted the wines that won Double Gold Medals or Best of Varietal honors, I was reminded of other wines I have tasted, and I wished I could taste wines from outside the county side by side with the best of Sonoma County. Roederer Estate from the Anderson Valley against Gloria Ferrer for sparkling, Handley from the Anderson Valley against Eric K James for Pinot Noir, Swanson from Rutherford against Mazzocco for Merlot, and Parducci from Ukiah against Simi for Petite Sirah as examples.

I love tasting wine. I love pairing wine and food and friends, not with kaftans or television shows or movies.

Recently, I wrote about tasting wines from Virginia with a group of fellow wine bloggers (not one of whom compared the wines to an article of clothing or media art). The best part of the tasting was learning that Virginia wineries are capable of producing palatable wines. There was a concern that the wines would be judges good, for a Virginia wine. Which is a dismissive way of saying it doesn’t stand up to a California wine. I have to say that I would love to have tasted the Virginia Viogniers I tasted against the Sweepstakes White winner from the Sonoma County Harvesty Fair from Alexander Valley Vineyard.

It is only by stretching, tasting every chance you can, that you find yourself pleased and surprised on occasion. Just as the quality of the Virginia Viogniers was a welcome treat, earlier this year I blind tasted a Sierra Foothills Pinot Noir from Deaver that was delicious, yet if I could have seen the label first, I probably would have passed.

I don’t mention it in my reviews because I don’t think it matters, but I have noticed that many more wineries than in the past feel comfortable abandoning the natural porous cork as a closure for their wines, and I am seeing more synthetic corks, and screwcap Stelvin closures. Screwcaps are big, and getting bigger. Boxes are also being tried with greater acceptance. Sebastiani is moving from glass bottles to three liter boxes for their Pepperwood Grove wines, following on the heels of the market success of Bandit and other tastier than customary box wines.

I am going to be taking part in a tweet-up, tasting the Sebastiani made Pepperwood Grove box wines, and tweeting my tasting notes at the same time that tasters at a Sonoma live tasting are tweeting their notes.

I hope that I will find deliciously drinkable, affordable wines, in greener recyclable packaging that protects the wine inside from oxidation throughout. My goal in writing is to find solid food wines that I can recommend to my friends who aren’t big wine drinkers and are unlikely to pop for a $30+ wine on a regular basis. Living in Mendocino County, the greenest wine county in America, green practices are increasingly important to me. I would love to point at affordable wines that make meals taste better than any other beverage that might be paired at the table with family and friends.

It is ironic that I am going to be tasting box wines, in that I only just found that Ukiah, my hometown, is home to two manufacturers of capsules and foil for wine and sparkling wine bottles.

In defense of my Ukiah business neighbors, at least one features Made In America capsules, their products are recyclable, as is glass, and the tide isn’t turning so fast that either company is threatened in the near term.

In an increasingly competitive and green business environment, it will require the best people to sell natural cork, glass bottles, and capsules; there are likely to be fewer advocates for tradition like Joel Peterson of Ravenswood in a world moving in the direction of more democratic and common sense packaging led by Randall Grahm of Bonny Doon.

I have cooked chicken in a liquid of alfredo tomato sauce with roasted peppers, sautéed mushrooms, and carmelized onions. I’m going to grab a glass, fill it with wine, enjoy good food, and watch the Giants in game one of the playoffs with Atlanta.

Maybe next time we meet here, I’ll have something more focused to say.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,830 other followers