Showing posts with label wine book. Show all posts
Showing posts with label wine book. Show all posts

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Wine Book: A Perfect Score

There is a wine book available for those who like to immerse themselves in the written word about the subject. And who doesn't? A Perfect Score by Craig and Kathryn Hall traces their 20-year path from amateur winemakers to the recipients of the celebrated 100-point score from Robert Parker's "The Wine Advocate." The hit the magic number twice, in fact, in 2013 and 2015.

The book is subtitled as "The Art, Soul, and Business of a 21st-Century Winery," and their tale encompasses all those aspects, with an emphasis on the business end. After all, a book touting your 100-point wines is not written as a matter of idle chatter. It's written to raise awareness of the winery through one the use of the best-possible "shelf talkers."

The Napa-Valley couple both come from the business world, but Kathryn's family has roots in Mendocino wine. The HALL wines are Bordeaux varieties, while the WALT line covers the Burgundy grapes of California's cooler regions. Their wine shops are bursting forth with highly-rated bottles from both sides of the vineyard fence.

In A Perfect Score, the Halls give a breezy look at how they came to make wines that would win over the critics. They also touch upon the Napa Valley's tug-of-war between localism and tourism. That's probably one of the more interesting threads to follow as California's first great wine region still struggles through its growing pains.

Art comes into play, as the Halls use artwork to enhance the winery experience. At their St. Helena location, there is a 35-foot-tall Bunny Foo Foo sculpture greeting visitors, one of the many works of art adorning their wineries.

The book also discusses how the Halls have created a completely organic, green winery. They say their St. Helena winery was the first LEED Gold Certified Winery in California.

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Monday, August 3, 2015

Telling The Story Of Vermouth

Adam Ford has written a book called Vermouth: The Revival of the Spirit that Created America’s Cocktail Culture. This $24.95 volume tells the strange and fascinating history of vermouth, visits the controversies that have always been a part of vermouth tradition, and offers recipes both old and new to take advantage of the new generation of craft vermouths that are now available. I was given a copy of the book for review.

From Neolithic China to the ancient Silk Roads, to a marketing battle between two Italian producers in the 1700’s to the emergence of a new American vermouth style in the 2010’s, from the boisterous New York City saloons of the 1870’s to the ultra-dry martinis of the 1950’s, the story of vermouth spans the globe and all of recorded history. This book tells the story with style and is a great gift for a lover of mixology as well as a tome that will complete any well-stocked spirits library.

Vermouth is a closer look at a notoriously underrated bar staple. Equal parts fascinating history, useful recipe guide, and gorgeous bar-side display, the book is a treat for anyone who appreciates a well-balanced cocktail. Or a great sipper.

Ford fell in love with vermouth the same way he fell in love with a woman, quite by accident. And the woman was instrumental in his introduction to vermouth, the aromatized wine he discovered while hiking the Italian Alps.

Vermouth is Ford's attempt to write a history of the drink, a history which spans 10,000 years of human events, a history he claims has never been written.

The story's introduction runs through China, the Middle East, ancient Egypt, Persia, the silk routes and the Mediterranean. Then he does a turn on the recent blink of an eye covering the American side of vermouth's history, in which he plays a part by producing a vermouth of his own. Ford also includes a lengthy section of cocktail recipes using vermouth.

It is a drink that offers a lot of surprises as its story unfolds, and a drink that is well worth the time of any wine lover to investigate. This book is a great introduction to a beverage which has much more to it than meets the eye.

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Friday, April 24, 2015

Wine Book: The Mad Crush

One of my wine country friends, Christopher Weir, has written a book about his experiences during one particular harvest at one particular winery. It’s called The Mad Crush: A Memoir of Mythic Vines and Improbable Winemaking, and it’s a great read. Its entertainment value is not restricted to those who know a lot about wine. Everyone can enjoy this book.

The Mad Crush is Weir’s personal recollection of the 1995 harvest at Saucelito Canyon Vineyard, in which he was recruited to help with the crush - the process of getting the grapes into the winery and making them into wine. Saucelito Canyon Vineyard is described on its website as being “in the middle of nowhere,” but a more accurate location would be the upper Arroyo Grande Valley of California’s Central Coast. This vineyard was originally planted in 1880, and the specialty of the house is old-vine Zinfandel.

Weir explains that while the book centers on the “eyebrow-raising escapades of the 1995 crush, it ultimately tells the larger tale of a century-old Zinfandel vineyard and the adventuresome characters who have dared to call it home.” It is his own personal account of the vineyard, its inhabitants and their place in California wine history. If you have a glass of wine while reading it, it’s like having a glass with a friend while he recounts the war stories of a season a couple of decades gone.

Interesting characters seem to gravitate to Weir, or he to them. In his role as a publicist for various wine concerns in the San Luis Obispo area, he has introduced me to several fascinating folks, including the most personal and hands-on vineyard tour I have ever experienced.

The one question that came to mind as I read the book was a wondered-aloud, “Why did he hold on to these stories for so long?” In almost the same instant I recalled the various books and screenplays that I and other friends have attempted, and the question became, “How did he ever find the time?” I’m not the only one who is glad that he did find that time.

The book has been getting some nice mentions from the wine-soaked likes of Joe Roberts, W. Blake Gray and rock-god Don Dokken, who is also a wine connoisseur. I’ll put my stamp of approval on it, too. There is nothing like a good collection of funny, interesting stories - when they happen to go so well with a glass of wine, The Mad Crush is irresistible.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


Wine News

Everyone's always looking for a bargain, and wine drinkers are no exception - well, maybe the guy who paid $124,000 for a bottle of Burgundy is.  My guess is he doesn't rummage in the bargain bins.

Wine writer and $10 wine proponent Jeff Siegel - known in the blog world as The Wine Curmudgeon - passed along a tip on a book due out in the fall of 2011 which promises to give bargain hunters the low down on the low-priced brands

Siegel has an interest in the book - he's in it - but it sounds like a tome that would be of interest to wine lovers who live on a budget.

The book is called "A Toast To Bargain Wines: How Innovators, Iconoclasts and Winemaking Revolutionaries Are Changing the Way the World Drinks," and it's due out in November.

The author - George Taber - wrote the book on The Judgment Of Paris, the famous blind tasting in which wines from California beat out French wines for the first time.  In his new book, he will detail how some wine producers are looking to lower-priced wines as a part of their marketing strategy.  Plenty of budget wine recommendations will also be offered in the book.

Sunday, June 13, 2010


Santa Maria Valley Wine Country Guide

If you want to go wine tasting in the Santa Maria Valley, but don't know too much about the area or the wineries found there, here's a good find for you.   The Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce and Visitor and Convention Bureau have a free, 16-page booklet with all the information you need to do a tour of the Santa Maria Valley wine country.

You can order "
Santa Maria Valley Wine Country Booklet " from the Chamber, but it's a lot handier - and greener - to access it on the web and download it.   You can print it yourself or keep it bookmarked on your smartphone.

Gina Keough, manager of the Santa Maria Valley Visitor and Convention Bureau, recognizes that the interest in the area's wine country has grown in recent years.   "This booklet is a significant expansion on our previous wine touring literature," Gina says.  "It is a helpful resource for visitors and locals alike."

In addition to a winery map and a description of the wineries of the Santa Maria Valley, you also get lists of area restaurants and other shopping destinations, tasting tour information, even wine pairing suggestions for that good ol' Santa Maria-style barbecue.

Even if you have been to the Santa Maria Valley before, you might want to take a look at the book.  Gina points out that several new wine tasting rooms may have opened since you last visited.