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The Most Influential Wine Writers

December 5, 2018 - 10:16am

In gathering responses for the 2018 American Wine Writer Survey, the question of writers’ most important influences was of great interest to me. I have my own ideas of which writers are most important to this era’s wine writing, as well as my own most important influences. But I wanted to underhand to whom today’s writers look to for inspiration. The wordcloud you see here represents the people named by American Wine Writer Survey-takers as influential as well as their...

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How Wine Writers See the World—In Graph and Chart

December 4, 2018 - 10:56am

I love wine writers. I have since I first started to get to know them when I began working with them as a publicist back in the day. I didn’t know what to expect of them at first. But they turned out to often be very intelligent, curious, dedicated, interesting people. I was and am fascinated at how they dig so deep into what often seems like a banal subject. The best of them were writers and reporters first, with wine...

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Freedom and Egalitarianism in American Wine

November 30, 2018 - 8:44am

The San Francisco Chronicle’s excellent young wine editor, Esther Mobley, engages in some really interesting speculation this week. In response to Katherine Cole’s excellent survey of how some wine labelling regulations have and are changing in the U.S. published in SevenFifty Daily, Mobley asks the following question: “Will this emulation of Europe at some point endanger our distinctively American spirit of experimentation when it comes to planting vineyards?” What Esther is asking is will wine labelling regulations in the U.S....

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The Ugly Truth About Wine Retailers

November 28, 2018 - 10:12am

Among the rarest of things is finding a person in business or politics who is willing to publicly tell the truth, even if it reveals something ugly about them and their industry. Usually, the person doesn’t realize the ugliness of their statement. I think that was the case with Veronica Litton, general manager and partner of the one-location Virginia Philip Wine, Spirits & Academy in Florida. In commenting on the possibility of Florida opening to wine shipments from out-of-state wine...

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On 14 Years Writing and The Art of Being a Wine Blogging Bomber

November 27, 2018 - 11:38am

When I was 14 years old (1977), I was enduring my last year of junior high school at Sinaloa Jr. High in Novato, California. I remember a few things about that year. The things that stand out most is being suspended for a week of school for having been the ringleader of an expedition to San Francisco’s Chinatown where I and two others conspirators procured a collection of small smoke bombs, which were subsequently unleashed on a somewhat entertained collection...

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Top 10 Reasons Wine Lovers Can Be Thankful

November 20, 2018 - 3:22pm

1. The selection of wines available in the United States today is more diverse and interesting than any other time in history. 2. Wine by the glass is showing up in more and more venues such as drug stores, grocery stores, and coffee shops. And who doesn’t want to sip a glass of wine while shopping for Lucky Charms? 3. The online venues where wine lovers can gab with one another about their obsession, such as Vivino, Delectable, Wine Berserkers, Cellar Tracker and...

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Canada and the Future Impact of Cannabis on Wine Sales

November 19, 2018 - 11:47am

The ways in which Canada and Canadians are different from Americans are many. But it’s also true that Canadians and Americans are very similar people. Given that, what to make of this: “According to a new poll conducted by Ipsos exclusively for Global News, nearly half of cannabis users — 45 per cent — say they will drink less alcohol now that pot is legal.” In my view, the jury is still out. The question is not “will legal recreational cannabis...

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Wine, Facebook and the Threat of Flesh Eating Zombies

November 16, 2018 - 10:07am

So, I draw a different conclusion. A new study appears to shows that young adults aged 21 to 24 increase their desire to drink after seeing Facebook ads and posts for alcohol companies that contain positive comments. On the other hand, they are less inclined to drink if there are negative comments under the social media post. The researchers conclude that the alcoholic drinks industry should restrict or ban comments on social media advertising and posts. By the way, if you are wondering what...

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Fear Not, Wine Criticism Lives

November 16, 2018 - 6:10am

The Wine Curmudgeon (Jeff Siegel) is celebrating his 11th anniversary penning his blog and reviewing affordable wines. I’ve been reading for all 11 years and will continue as long as he keeps up delivering his consistently astute, honest and interesting posts. However, despite his anniversary, the Curmudgeon is feeling a bit dour, at least as far as the job of reviewing wine is concerned: “Wine criticism has become more button down than ever, a continually increasing jumble of scores and...

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Wine Consumers Must Take Matters Into Their Own Hands

November 13, 2018 - 6:25pm

In late 2004, just prior to the coming Dec 7th oral arguments in the groundbreaking Granholm v Heald Supreme Court case, a number of groups and parties concluded their interests demanded they must inform the Court of their perspective on wine shipping in America. They decided they needed to make a case to the Court. They decided that justice required they tell the court the reasons they believed discriminatory wine shipping laws were good or bad for the country. So,...

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Bourbon, Wine and a Toast

November 11, 2018 - 9:02pm

On Veterans Day, I toast my father. Second Lieutenant. Geroge T. Wark fought in World War II. He was born in 1919. He died in 1979 when I was 16 years old. Cancer. But, were he still alive at 99 years old and were we to be sitting together with his grandson Henry Geroge, his daughter in law Kathy and myself, he’d surely raise a glass with me. We in honor of him; he in honor of his comrades in...

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All the Ways In Which Coffee and Wine Compare

November 7, 2018 - 10:27am

My relationship with coffee is fairly utilitarian and different from my relationship with wine. I use coffee to deliver a stimulant effect in the morning. I think I’m addicted to the caffeine in coffee, but I honestly don’t know. I haven’t tested how I react without coffee in the morning. And I don’t plan too. Wine is different. I don’t drink it every day and when I do drink it I do so as a refresher or as an accompaniment to...

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Wine Blogs That Ask Us to Wear New Shoes

November 6, 2018 - 8:27am

Inside the wine blogging community, we find a good number of folks who try hard, who work to refine their style, who expose themselves as they work their way through the wine cannon and those who work hard and rise to the top. Then there are those wine bloggers who have succeeded in doing all these things, have gathered a dedicated audience, have gained a great deal of respect and who have chosen to use their self-built forum to expose...

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Wine, Consumers and the Court

November 4, 2018 - 8:41pm

There is no other category of consumer whose day to day commercial habits are more impacted by politics than wine consumers. Their product choices, the places they can purchase products, the age at which they may purchase wine products, and the way by which they may purchase wine are all dictated by politics. The reason for this is the 21st Amendment to the Constitution, which dictated that in addition to ending 14 years of national prohibition of drinking, the Amendment...

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A Napa Valley Halloween — Without the Wine Traveler

October 31, 2018 - 8:19pm

Of course, the best Halloweens I ever experienced were when I was a child. What else can I say? I’m thinking about 8 or 9 years old. Around 1970. The candy companies hadn’t figured out “minis” yet. And the idea of razor blades in candy apples or spiked popcorn balls were Halloween tales kids told each other just to mess with each other. It didn’t happen. It all added up to big candy bars (parents would buy as many big, fat...

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Women in Wine—Survey Says, It’s Getting Better

October 29, 2018 - 8:15pm

The 2018 Career and Salary Survey commissioned by SevenFifty and carried out by Wine Opinions. is a really good thing. It delivers a lot of interesting background to the wine, beer and spirits industry. The part that has received the most attention, however, outlines how women and minorities are underrepresented in the industry as well as receiving less compensation. This part of the survey’s findings is particularly important. The disparity in wages between men and women described by the survey is...

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Napa vs Oregon Wine Country: Coppola Edition

October 25, 2018 - 11:29am

News that the Coppola family of Napa and Sonoma winery fame purchased the Vista Hills Vineyard in Oregon’s Willamette Valley shouldn’t be a real surprise. While there isn’t an exodus to Oregon among California winemakers, there certainly is a turning north in winemakers’ investment view. The Vista Hills Vineyard is a pretty prime spot. Located in the Dundee Hills AVA and situated next door to Domaine Drouhin and Domaine Serene, the 42 acres of vineyard and tasting room and winery...

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The Worst Alcohol Idea Ever

October 25, 2018 - 7:30am

Reports out of New York related the refounding of the New York State Prohibition Party. As those of you who know a little about the history of the United States will understand, this newly recognized New York State Political party has as its primary goal the banning of production and consumption of alcohol in New York and the nation. Can anyone explain this to me? I’m a relatively well-educated man with a decent amount of life and political experience who...

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Lies, Damned Lies and Wine Wholesalers

October 23, 2018 - 8:00am

“I am always surprised when individual wholesalers or their main trade and lobbying group, the Washington DC-based Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America [WSWA,] fails to chime in on key issues.” Liza Zimmerman, correspondent for Wine-Searcher I’m not. After all, when forced to respond to key issues to the wine and spirits industry, wholesalers are forced into a terrible situation: They either must tell the truth of their protectionist ideology (which never goes over well) or lie. That’s not a...

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The Inconsequence and Beauty of Wine in a Right v. Wrong World

October 20, 2018 - 7:53pm

Despite what my occasional rants and polemics might suggest about my disposition, I do get the beauty of wine. There are so many things that make wine beautiful, actually. But the one that I think I like the most is the fact that when you decide to honestly and enthusiastically engage with wine, you don’t have to choose a team. This trait seems all too rare today. There is no choosing between right and left or between right and wrong...

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