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Peay Vineyards: A North Country Love Fest

I'm just back from the annual Peay Vineyards Sommelier Love Fest. For the wine trade only, it's an event that I am fortunate enough to insinuate myself into. I bring you pictures for two reasons.

Chateau Montelena: Next, A For-Sale Sign on Mount Rushmore

Not really, but it's quite amazing that two huge, historical and prominent brands have recently been sold to European firms. First, Budweiser, the King of Beers, goes to InBev of Belgium. Now Chateau Montelena goes to the Bordeaux house Cos d'Estournel.

Both were good buys, given the state of the dollar. Still, it's weird that there's not more outrage that our national beer and wine icons are being wheeled and dealed like a used Chevy. Where are the anti-Gall cries of today? What are the new Freedom Fries?

Beer for Dogs? No, It's Not a Joke

A friend alerted me to this astonishing development in the world of beer: Happy Tail Ale, the first beer for dogs. It's nonalcoholic, fortified with glucosamine (for the joints) and Vitamin E, and it's beef-flavored. Hell, if it weren't for the nonalcoholic part, I'd probably drink it myself.


...that's a lot of glasses.

This was a dinner I attended during the Symposium for Professional Wine Writers up in Napa. It was a good three days, and I gleaned some valuable information about publishing. More than that, however, I made some excellent new friends. Not a bad use of time, particularly for people who are just starting their career.

Stony Hill

Last week, I made my first trip to Stony Hill, a winery in St. Helena that I've admired for a long time.

I got to meet Peter McRea, the owner, who has continued making excellent Chardonnay from the Napa Valley in the exact same style his parents did--which is to say, balanced, completely devoid of new oak and extremely age-worthy.

Napa in Autumn

One of the few disappointing things about living in the Bay Area is the absence of clear-cut and dramatic seasons. Autumn has always been my favorite time of year (favorite month = October), but to get a feeling for it, you have to go up to Napa or some other place where more of the trees and plants actually drop their color-changing leaves. It's the end of the season up there, but there's still some nice action, as these amateurish pics from a recent trip display.

Adieu, Boris

Boris Champy (left) is leaving Napa’s Dominus Estate in December and being replaced by Tod Mostero (right).

Another Winery, Another Party

We made another quick jaunt up to Sonoma last weekend for the grand opening of the Patz & Hall winery in Sonoma. Justifiably famous for their Pinots and Chardonnays, P&H worked steadily to become one of the premier brands for those varieties in California. There is excellence in the bottle, of course, but part of the charm, no doubt, is the traces of the personalities of owners Donald Patz, James Hall, Anne Moses and Heather Patz.

Sommelier Love Fest

Last week was the annual Peay Vineyards Sommelier Love Fest, an event in which the good family Peay—Andy and Ami, Vanessa and Nick—host sommeliers from all over for a relaxed tasting, tour, dinner and all-night wine fest.


Breaking Ground

Read this press release Frank Gehry-Designed Hall Winery Officially Breaks Ground in Napa Valley to find out more about Napa’s latest planned architectural wonder of a winery. The new Hall winery will find itself in the stylized company of Opus One’s ziggurat and V. Satui’s Castello di Amorosa.

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