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Villa Maria Masterful Moments

This summer, at the  International Pinot Noir Celebration (INPC) in Oregon, I had the pleasure of meeting Alastair Maling. He was presenting Villa Maria wines and happen to be one of five winemakers on my mystery bus tour, culminating in a blind tasting of their own five wines. Maling, who holds the prestigious title of the “Master of Wine”, was the sole panelist, who, to the astonishment of consumers and winemakers alike, identified all five wines correctly. He meticulously broke…

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Four Cs of Cayman Cookout

Every January, culinary elites descend upon the Cayman Island’s fanciest, five diamond hotel, The Ritz Carlton, to attend the Cayman Cookout.  This year, I was honored to be invited to cover the event. January 15th couldn’t come soon enough. As my plane descended at Grand Cayman Airport, my heart pounded with excitement, in anticipation of treasures to be uncovered on this long-awaited trip. The three Cayman Islands are a British Overseas Territory. Its major island, Grand Cayman, is a twenty-mile…

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Carneros Charm

The Carneros district is bathed in coastal fog that softly tiptoes in from the Pacific. This allows for a leisurely growing season with grapes luxuriating in style. Framing the gateway to both Napa and Sonoma, this understated region quietly turns out some of the most coveted Pinot Noir and Chardonnay fruit. The area’s Durell, Hudson, Hyde, and Sangiacomo vineyards are legendary in the wine business, commanding a high premium for their fruit and a long waiting list of eager buyers.…

(Image credit: Siduri Vineyards)

Top Ten West Sonoma Coast Wineries

West Sonoma Coast is a leading producer of ultra premium Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and cool climate Syrah. It is home to some of my favorite growing areas, including magical Occidental, Freestone, and the newer Fort Ross-Seaview sub-appellation. There are plenty of great wineries in Sonoma’s sub-appellations; however, the Coast has always held a very special place in my heart. Folks from this stunningly beautiful area are pretty easy to find irresistible, as are their wines. They are farmers at heart…

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Clairvoyant Cloudy Bay

My first ever New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc came from the winery that, today, is nearly synonymous with the varietal, Cloudy Bay. It was one of the first five wineries established in Marlborough region. The winery is justly credited with establishing Marlborough’s reputation for world class Sauvignon Blanc. Twenty years later, I’m still in love with their wine. Last August, during my trip to the Marlborough region, I was excited to finally visit the birthplace of my multi-year obsession. In fact, I…

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Wonders of Waiheke

Twelve miles off of the coast of the North Island lays one of the wonders of New Zealand, Waiheke Island. Named by Maori for “Cascading Waters,” it is the second largest island in the gulf. As New Zealand’s third most populated island, it is home to roughly eight thousand permanent residents. Its close proximity to mainland and breathtaking scenery attracts plenty of tourists. Last August I was fortunate to be one of them. I spent two days traversing the 36…

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