Today is my first day off since I last posted here.

Two Sundays ago, I wrote about being hired to be the Tasting Room Manager and Wine Club Coordinator for McFadden Vineyards, and after short deliberation, weighing the ethical considerations and potential conflicts of interest in working for one winery while writing about wines from other wineries, announced that I would continue to write about wine.

I have been so busy learning, working, tasting, living my new job – I put in nearly 60 hours of work last week; and spent considerable additional hours thinking about, obsessing about, even dreaming about my new job – that I don’t have much to write about wine this week that isn’t directly related to McFadden Vineyard.

That said, I have gone from feeling cast into the deep end of a very large pool to having a comfortable confidence, and am genuinely enjoying my job.

I have two great staff (Gary and Eugene) who have valuable insight, and experienced neighbors to ask questions of, in the nuts and bolts operation of the tasting room; I have another potential staffer training this week, and have interviewed two more. I put together an introductory newsletter, complete with a recipe featuring a made in Heaven McFadden Vineyard wine and food pairing, and e-mailed it to all of our wine club members. Our wine is easy to enjoy, delicious and approachable, very drinkable, very friendly; everybody who tastes it likes it. I have begun planning for upcoming events.

Speaking of events, the Hopland tasting room scene is very cooperative, and each month on the second Saturday we all stay open a little longer, have special one day one sales, and make food treats available to pair with our wines. I invite my readers and friends to a wine adventure; visit the tasting rooms of Hopland this Saturday, April 9, 2011, stop in to the McFadden Vineyard tasting room, say “hi” to me, taste our wines, including our stainless steel fermented 2009 Chardonnay made from grapes organically grown on our Potter Valley farm which will be available on a one day sale at just $10.40 a bottle if you buy a case, have a snack, and enjoy the beauty of Mendocino County.

I promise that not all of my future entries will lead with, or even include McFadden Vineyards, but I write about what I know and experience, and this is what I experienced last week.


The folks at V. Sattui Winery in Napa County sent some wines for me to taste and comment on, and I look forward to having my work schedule calm down soon so I can return to cooking dinners and tasting wines at home, then writing about my own food and wine adventures. I’ll get around to tasting these wines, and others previously sent by other kind wineries, plus undoubtedly some from around Hopland; my notes to follow. Thanks for being understanding about my life intruding, for the short future, on my wine tasting schedule.


One of my favorite television programs, Top Gear, features three men talking about cars with videography so slick as to make someone like me who doesn’t know or care about cars much actually covet unapproachably exotic cars, the three men along with a tame racing driver blend sophomoric humor and genuine passion delivering something akin to car porn, and it is one of the BBC’s highest rated series. All of which has absolutely nothing to do with wine.

Except that one of the Top Gear presenters, James May, has teamed up with Oz Clarke, a highly respected and knowledgeable (unlike me) wine writer and together they have turned out two great seasons of wine and travel programs. The first season featured the two tasting the wines of France; but the second season features episodes covering some of California’s grape growing wine regions. For me, the enjoyability of these shows comes from seeing the familiar through different eyes, from two wholly different perspectives; it is at once both educational and enormously entertaining. Wonderfully, just as Top Gear does not require particular car knowledge, so too is Oz and James’s Big Wine Adventure fun to watch for anyone regardless of your wine knowledge or passion.

As always, thanks for reading, and cheers!