In a repeat performance, Imagery Estate Winery founded by Joe Benziger in 1985 has been honored for the second year running by the California State Fair as the 2018 Golden State Winery of the Year. Benziger, who was at the helm for the 2017 award, has now retired but serves as guide and mentor for his second daughter Jamie Benziger, 31, who stepped up as winemaker in 2018.
In more ways than one, Champagne has begun infiltrating wineries in Sonoma and Napa counties. With several unprecedented examples that include Napa cult wine producer Sinegal launching its brand in conjunction with a prestige Champagne house, Sonoma’s Buena Vista Winery–branded Champagne and the unique partnership between Jordan Winery and the grower Champagne house of AR Lenoble, there’s a trend in the making.
In 1997 ozone was approved by the EPA as a safe and effective method of general sanitation for wineries. With the commitment to sustainable farming practices on the rise, it’s now proving to be equally useful in the vineyard. Ozone, or O3, a bluish unstable gas that smells like the air charged by lightning during a thunderstorm, is generated when oxygen and electricity are combined. At high enough concentrations, ozone-charged water becomes a chemical-free alternative to pesticides. Third-generation grower John Bacigalupi farms using many of the traditional methods he learned from his father and grandfather. Last year the Bacigalupi family marked its 50th year growing grapes in Russian River Valley and, in his efforts to be a better steward to the land, Bacigalupi continually adapts his farming practices to keep pace with the way pests and disease respond to chemical treatments. Read the article here 2015JA_PARKERWONG_Ozone
When producers from both sides of the Napa/Sonoma county line that bisects the Los Carneros AVA gathered at Cuvaison for the 30th annual barrel tasting of the Carneros Wine Alliance, Rudyard Kipling’s “Ballad of East and West” came to mind. The AVA stretches east to west and encompasses portions of both Sonoma and Napa counties. Alliance winemakers offered first looks at the 2014 vintage and poured library wines as well. “It’s an exception when we’re representing Carneros,” said Anne Moller-Racke, President and Winegrower at Donum Estate in Sonoma. “We’re usually pouring under a Napa or Sonoma banner.” Read the article here: Ballad of East and West
“We’re in pop-up mode,” said vintner Christi Coors Ficeli who purchased Goosecross Cellars in 2013 and broke ground on a winery expansion in November 2014. Closing the tasting room during construction wasn’t an option for Coors Ficeli, whose fiercely loyal club members are content to taste her current releases in a single-wide trailer with a view of the construction. “We’re engaging our club members in the next chapter of our winery’s story,” says Coors Ficeli.“When completed, the new winery will have a large patio area devoted to outdoor seating so we can take full advantage of our west-facing view of the Mayacamas.” Read the entire article here: Sprucing Up The Goose
If you’re a regular at the annual Family Winemakers of California tasting being held on September 9th from 3:00 to 6:00 PM at the Fort Mason Festival Pavilion then you probably have a game plan for navigating a tasting of this size. If you’re new to the game or if you’re a bit overwhelmed just by the idea, take heart, help is on the way. I spend a big chunk of my time attending wine tastings. Each year I taste about 5,000 different producers from every winegrowing region in the world. Here in California, I not only spend time visiting wineries, I jury several regional wine competitions which helps familiarize me with smaller producers including many of those pouring at Family Winemakers whom only sell their wine directly to consumers. Like any good quarterback, I always have a game plan lined up before heading out onto the field. I invite you to piggyback on my research and use this list as a guideline to some not-to-be-missed wines by California’s best and brightest. The real beauty …