Sip Trip through Italy: Vermentino, Fiano, Chianti Classico

Situated in the Mediterranean Sea about 115 miles off mainland Italy, Sardinia is rich with charming beauty and eccentricities. It’s the place of sugar-fine sandy beaches, near-Alpine forests, scenic roads, and breathtaking hikes that bring you deeper into the lush and silent interior. Sardinia is also like a pebble polished by waves of history and tradition. Scattered with thousands of nuraghi, Bronze Age settlements, these prehistory remnants are waiting to be solved like the most intricate game of Clue. VERMENTINOA…

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Tom Gamble’s land, family, and wine

On that warm August afternoon, Tom Gamble greeted us with a glass of rosé, helped us onto his flatbed trailer as we took an open-top tour through his land. This was the first thing we would do upon arriving at Gamble Family Vineyards to appreciate where his love for this place comes from. Only then would we discover why the third generation rancher would make wine at all. Along the way, the vintage GMC crawls to a stop for a…

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Head to the Rive: Aim high with Prosecco

When we think of Prosecco, what comes to mind is the easy-drinking, cheerful, bubbly, white wine that is made throughout the Veneto and Friuli regions of Northern Italy. Lovers of Prosecco can’t seem to get enough. And thankfully, there’s plenty to go around. In fact, an estimated one billion bottles are produced annually to meet the continuing demand. This also means there are differences in quality from one to the next. In a sea of bubbles, where do we begin?   One…

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Ridge Monte Bello: On the edge of North America

The view from Monte Bello Ridge on Black Mountain forms a scenic backdrop that is relatively undiscovered in the San Francisco Bay Area. Here in the Santa Cruz Mountains, native oaks, redwoods, and madrones stud the deep and shady canyons that draw cyclists, hikers, and nature lovers alike. From the rich riparian habitat flows streams that trickle their way into the Bay. And hugging this natural landscape is Silicon Valley, the epicenter of technological innovation, which makes this entire area…

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Etna’s Hotspot: Benanti

Etna’s greatest great winemakers are fierce and passionate, working under Mother’s Nature’s unapologetic direction season after season, they remain steady ambassadors of their land. The winemakers of the Etna region of Sicily are a remarkably different breed. Resilient and courageous, they risk many of the climatic challenges, from scorching hot summers to untimely rain and hail, plus a decidedly active volcano – all in the pursuit of making some of the greatest wines in the world.  “The eruptions are frequent. I…

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Wine Field Study: Look down and taste Santorini

Santorini is already special. It’s the only inhabited cauldron in the world. Formed by volcanic eruptions, the crescent-shaped island, which sits half way between Athens and Crete, offers an astonishing array of contrasts.  Jagged rocky promontories and smooth downhill slopes meet the Aegean Sea. Arable land crawls with volcanic rocks. Deep ravines break up the scrubby plains. Native grape vines showcase their curious shapes, and the wine is unequivocally “Santorini.” What makes Santorini’s wines so special? We can start by…

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Sipping Tequila Terroir

Discerning drinkers know that Tequila is the spirit of a classic Margarita and that it comes from the blue agave plant. Furthermore, they can recognize the major styles: Joven, Resposados, and Añejo, for example. But then still other drinkers approach Tequila like it is wine, spending time learning about the history and terroir and how the soil and climate affect the final product in the bottle. As a wine lover, I can really relate. Recently, I had the opportunity to taste …

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Amarone: The taste of time and love

Italy’s illustrious Amarone della Valpolicella lends a mouth coating texture with an illusion of sweetness, yet the wines are fermented dry. Spellbinding, even magical, delicious, pricey and worth it, Amarone is the product of love and devotion that is inherently Veronese.

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Field Study: Tasting the land at Cain Vineyard

The drive was slow, steep, and bumpy. But, the rugged surroundings from the windows of the vintage four-wheel-drive vehicle eventually led to a clearing at the top. We emerged high above the fog line that morning. And, while carefully treading the peak which straddled both Sonoma and Napa valleys, Cain Vineyard winemaker Christopher Howell reached down to pull a weed firmly from the ground. “Here, smell this. It’s tarweed,” he said. Tarweed, a sticky, hairy plant with little drab beige…

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Renzo Cotarella’s first love: Antinori’s Cervaro della Sala

“Firsts” are special. For Renzo Cotarella, CEO of Marchesi Antinori and director of winemaking, Cervaro della Sala might as well been his first child. Excitement, loving devotion, and emotional connection for this wine was clearly evident during a vertical tasting before a group of sommeliers and myself. “This is a wine which I really love, particularly because it’s the first wine I made,” says Cotarella. With that in mind, glasses upon glasses of Cervaro della Sala, which lined the table…

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