Pinot in the City On May 15, 2018, 70 wineries from Oregon’s Willamette Valley are heading to Chicago
for Pinot in the City. The evening tasting at Morgan Manufacturing is from 6:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. VIP access
begins at 5:30 p.m. Owners and winemakers will be pouring a selection of both current releases and library
wines, including Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Chardonnay and sparkling wines. A trade tasting will be
held the same day. More information at wwww.willamettewines.com/event/pinot-in-the-city/.Tickets at
Taste of Sonoma Superb local wines and outstanding chefs at the Taste of Sonoma, September 1, 2018,
at Green Music Center at Sonoma State University. Exclusive pre-sale tickets now available featuring ticket
discounts and special benefits for Visa Signature® and Visa Infinite® cardholders. General admission sales
open May 14, 2018. Visit www.TasteofSonoma.com.
Record-Breaking Sonoma County Barrel Auction A record-setting $840,700 was raised at
the Fourth Annual Sonoma County Barrel Auction at MacMurray Vineyards, April 20, 2018, attended by a crowd
of 500 trade people. The top-earning lot of the day and the top-selling red wine lot was one of two special 20-
case “Sonoma Rising” barrel lots benefitting the Sonoma County Vintners Emergency Relief Fund. 2017
Sonoma Rising “Resilience,” produced with fruit from the Russian River Valley and Sonoma Coast and crafted
by winemakers at AldenAlli, Arista Winery, Benovia Winery and Williams Selyem, was sold for $70,000 ($3,500
per case). 2017 “A Perfect Pair” Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir, made by winemakers at Benovia Winery and
AldenAlli, fetched $2,600 per case.
North Coast Wine & Food Festival The 2018 Press Democrat North Coast Wine & Food Festival
will be held Saturday, June 9, 2018, at SOMO Village in Rohnert Park. The event features the top wines from
the Press Democrat North Coast Wine Challenge. VIP tickets $135 per person, tasting $95 per person. 90 Gold
Medal Wines, 18 iconic wine country chefs, music, and ongoing programs hosted by celebrity chef John Ash.
Antica Terra + Lillian Announce 2018 Vineyard Lunch Series Lunch will be served from
12:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. under old oak trees, among the vines of the Antica Terra Estate Vineyard. Chef Timothy
Wastell will prepare the meal accompanied by a thoughtful curation of wines. Only ten seats at the table for
each date: July 14 and 21, August 8, 11 and 25, and September 9. Tickets will be available to mailing list
members on April 24 at a pre-sale price of $100 per person. Sales will be open to the general public on May 1
at $125 per person. For inquiries, contact Miranda Bradeen at email@example.com.
Red Car Winery Owner & Winemaker Carroll Kemp Moves to Alma Fria Almost
twenty years ago, Carroll left his producing career in Hollywood and became a winemaker. He founded Red
Car along with his good friend Mark Estrin and investors. Mark passed away tragically in 2005, a year after the
pair became full-time Red Car employees. In 2010, Carroll relocated Red Car to Western Sonoma County to
focus on the kind of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay that enthralled him. He was able to grow almost all the fruit
used in the Red Car wines. Although Red Car became highly successful, Carroll found another chapter
beckoning. He is joining with a good friend, Jan Holtermann, who founded Alma Fria, a producer of Pinot and
Chardonnay from West Sonoma Coast vineyards. Jan and Carroll discovered a vineyard near Annapolis and
the vines there are now known as the Holtermann Vineyard, the winery’s estate vineyard. Jan invited Carroll to
make Alma Fria’s wines from the inception. Today, Carroll is Jan’s partner and Alma Fria is Carroll’s future.
Alma Fria wines have been reviewed very favorably in the past: www.princeofpinot.com/winery/2424/.
Book on Robert Lawrence Balzer Christine Graham, a Contributing Editor to The Underground
Wineletter has just published a book on wine icon Robert Lawrence Balzer, Hollywood and Wine - A Star-
Studded Life: The Robert Lawrence Balzer Story. Balzer had been working on his autobiography prior to his
death at age 98 in 2011. Graham agreed to complete the book, relying on his copious notes, articles, books
and journals. Balzer was a 20th Century Renaissance man: Hollywood celebrity, Buddhist monk, fancy grocer,
wine educator, bon vivant, restaurateur, chef, actor, author, pilot, poet, painter, photographer, dancer, world
traveler, philanthropist, radio personality and visionary. Some of his closest friends included President Ronald
Reagan, Robert Mondavi, Greta Garbo, Wolfgang Puck, Paul Bocuse, Lalou Bize Leroy, and Claude Taittinger.
The book includes photographs of both the early days of Hollywood and the early days of the California wine
industry. The books is available on Amazon as a Kindle ebook.
Burgundy Documentary Debuts ‘Three Days of Glory’ is a full-length documentary film about the
greatest wine events, in the most storied region, during the most difficult year of 2016. The film, by Scott Wright
of Caveau Selections (importers of Burgundy and grower Champagne based in Portland, Oregon), and filmmaker David Baker, was filmed on location in Burgundy, taking the viewer through the frost-ravaged 2016
vintage through the eyes of the vignerons who lived it. The film provides a true insider’s look into Burgundy,
featuring Veronique Drouhin, Dominique Lafon, Caroline Parent-Gros, Aubert De Villaine and Allen Meadows.
For the first time ever on film, viewers will see the behind-the-scenes workings of the famous celebrations La
Paulée de Meursault, the Hospices de Beaune auction, and the feast of the Confrèrie des Chevaliers du
Tastevin at the Chateau de Vougeot, as well as the harsh economic realities and climate change challenges
facing one of the world’s great treasures. The World Premiere will be Sunday, April 29, as part of the Newport
Beach Film Festival and the Napa Valley Premiere will be the following day in St. Helena. Further showings are
planned, including the Nice International Film Festival in France. UPDATE: I attended the World Premiere on
April 29. The movie is captivating and tugs at the heart as the challenges facing Burgundy’s continuing
existence are revealed. Interviews with notable vignerons and Allen Meadows are poignant and insightful. More
about the documentary at www.threedaysofglory.com. Also, visit Caveau Selections at
www.caveauselections.com. Although you may associate Burgundy and Champagne with out-of-reach prices,
most of Scott Wright’s offerings are carefully vetted and focus on the affordable range of $24-$75 per bottle.
The Pinot Noir Programme New Zealand’s Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment and New
Zealand Winegrowers have co-funded research to find effective and practical ways of breaking the quality productivity
seesaw of Pinot Noir. To continue to drive export growth, crucial for Pinot Noir production, the study
will look to find the understanding of how to consistently produce high-quality wine at a price point acceptable
to the customer while simultaneously increasing both yield and quality in Pinot Noir. Read more about this:
Sangiacomo Family Introduces Estate Wines The third generation of the Sangiacomo family
has launched a series of wines from their estate vineyards located in Carneros, Napa and the Sonoma Coast.
Vittorio and Maria Sangiacomo staked the family’s flag in Sonoma with the purchase of the Home Ranch, a 52-acre fruit tree ranch in 1927. The family’s next generation of Angelo, Buck, Lorraine and Bob Sangiacomo
carried on the legacy by growing the apple and pear business and converting to premium grape vineyards in
the late 1960s. The Sangiacomo holdings have grown to 1,600 estate acres in Napa and Sonoma. The wines
include Sonoma Coast AVA Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, single vineyard designated Green Acres Vineyard
Sonoma Coast Chardonnay, Home Ranch Carneros Chardonnay, Roberts Road Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot
Noir, and Oakview Vineyard Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, and the ViMaria Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir that
pays homage to the family legacy and is a special barrel selection from the family’s estate vineyards. For more
information, visit www.sangiacomowines.com.
Willamette Valley Chamber Music Festival Now in its third season, this festival offers a one-of-a-
kind cultural experience in Oregon wine country. Violinist and co-founder, Sasha Callahan, told me that
winemakers are partnered with world-class chamber music in unique, intimate spaces, allowing audiences to
experience the beauty and craft of extraordinary wine and music hand in hand After two sold-out seasons the
festival is expanding this summer to three weekends of chamber music in Oregon wine country. Performances
will be on Saturday and Sunday afternoons beginning Saturday, August 11 and closing Sunday, August 26.
Concerts include works from pioneering female composes Joan Tower (composer-in-residence), Rebecca
Clarke and Fanny Mendelssohn, plus pieces by Beethoven, Haydn, Schubert, Philip Glass and a string quintet
by Oregon native Kenji Bunch. Four concerts will be held in the barrel room of J. Christopher Wines, and the
festival will return to the gorgeous vista of Elk Cove Vineyards as well. Tickets and more details are available
now at www.wvchambermusic.org.
Next Gen Takes over McHenry Vineyard For years, I have enjoyed the wines crafted by Henry
McHenry, proprietor and winemaker for McHenry Vineyard, located in the Bonny Doon sub-region of the Santa
Cruz Mountains, and one of the oldest family-run estate wineries in the Santa Cruz Mountains AVA. Henry is a
retired professor of anthropology at UC Davis (where he learned his winemaking skills) who, after 42 harvests,
is turning over the winemaking and winegrowing duties to daughter Annalisa McHenry, son-in-law Brandon
Blanchard and nephew Ian McHenry. The tiny production of McHenry Vineyard Pinot Noir comes from a 2.5-
acre vineyard planted in the early 1990s to Pommard, Pinot 13, Dijon 115 and Swan selection. Winemaking at
McHenry has always been old-fashioned and hands-on, using an old Italian crusher acquired in 1977,
fermenting in 4x4 open-top vats, and finishing with the same basket press used for years. Even ordering the
relatively inexpensive wines is old school using email or a phone number. The website is
www.mchenryvineyard.com. Read more about the transition at McHenry Vineyard in this published article:
Banshee Wines Sold to Foley Family Wines Banshee Wines, based in Healdsburg, has had
remarkable growth since releasing its first wines from the 2008 vintage. Banshee buys all of its grapes on
contract and produces its wines at a custom crush facility. Production reached 50,000 cases of Banshee and its
value-priced label Rickshaw by 2017. CEO Byron Ziegler, founder of Banshee Wines, was retained as chief
Pinot Noir from England? I was surprised to learn about the English Pinot Noir scene that has been
gaining in quality and popularity in an article that appeared in Decanter online:
Noir is the second most planted variety in England at almost 800 acres, accounting for almost one quarter of
total plantings. Most of the Pinot Noir is used for sparkling wines, but some still Pinot Noir is showing promise
at the level of AOC Bourgogne Rouge wines.
A Perfect Pinot Noir? A score of 100 out of 100 for domestic Pinot Noir by any reviewer is extremely
rare. I only know of two: a California 2007 Williams Selyem LItton Estate Russian River Valley Pinot Noir and
most recently, an Oregon 2016 Patricia Green Cellars Estate Vineyard Bonshaw Block Ribbon Ridge Pinot
Noir. These two 100-point wines were reviewed and scored by wine critics working for Wine Enthusiast
magazine. When a wine is awarded a 100-point score, the reviewer is saying in essence that the wine is
perfect and could not be improved. I have tasted thousands of domestic Pinot Noir wines and I have never
found one that I considered “perfect.” A score of 98, meaning near perfection, is the highest score I have ever
awarded a Pinot Noir. I believe almost every winemaker would admit that they have never crafted a perfect
Pinot Noir wine. It is this shortcoming that provides them the impetus to continue to strive to make such a wine.
I am reminded of this quote by football coach Vince Lombardi who said, “Perfection is not attainable, but if we
chase perfection we can catch excellence.”
The Studio By Feast It Forward The Studio, a wine collective bringing together food, wine, design,
art and music under one roof is opening in downtown Napa. 16 producers, most of which are from Napa Valley
are involved. An exception is Inman Family Wines from the Russian River Valley. Owner Kathleen Inman
actually grew up in Napa and her first winery job was at Kent Rasmussen Winery. She and her spouse Simon
founded Inman Family Winery in the Middle Reach of the Russian River Valley in 2000. Read more about
Inman Family Winery, a stellar producer of Pinot Noir rosé, sparkling wines, Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and