In Vino Veritas

Top 10 Wineries of Rutherford


“My dear, my dearest dust; I come, I come.” -Diane ZahlerThe Thirteenth Princess

Rutherford is a tiny Napa Valley appellation consisting of only 6,650 acres under vine. One of Rutherford’s key characteristics is that the fruit spends more time in the sun than any other appellation. Located between the Mayacamas and Vaca mountain ranges its diurnal temperature shifts (warm days followed by cool nights) allows Rutherford fruit to ripen evenly and steadily. Continue reading

New Generation of Cahors – An afternoon with Fabien Jouves and Emmanuel Rybinski



“Irreverent men make the best wines”


On a recent trip to southern France, one of the most memorable visits took place in the Malbec country of Appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC) Cahors, France, a picturesque region along the Lot River.

Wines from this AOC must contain at least 70% Malbec grapes. These days Malbec, also known as “Cot Noir,” is widely regarded as the signature grape for Argentina, which boasts over 70% of worldwide plantings of the variety; yet its roots are firmly planted in French soil. Malbec was introduced to Bordeaux in the 18th Century. This dark and opulent variety was blended into Bordeaux to bolster color and deepen flavor. Cahors gave Argentina its first Malbec cuttings in 1852. French versions are invariably dynamic, energetic, age worthy and quite restrained in their youth. Malbecs made in Argentina tend to be more lush and fruit-forward. Continue reading

Appellational Series – Top 10 Yountville Wineries


A Little Appelation That Could

Boasting the very first vineyards in the Napa Valley; planted by George Yount in the mid-1800’s, Yountville became an appellation in 1998. Although relatively small, 2700 or so acres are under vine, it is the home of some of the top growers and vintners in Napa Valley. Diversity of soils and microclimates facilitate a number of varietals, besides Cabernet Sauvignon, to thrive. There are some terrific Sauvignon Blancs and a stellar Petite Syrah or two. Don’t let its size fool you. This viticultural area is overflowing with wine gems no discerning drinker can afford to miss. Continue reading

Savvy Success, Saint Clair Way


“There is no passion to be found playing small–in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.” -Nelson Mandela

My love affair with Saint Clair Family Estate started several years ago when I discovered their wine at a trade tasting. Ever since, they have steadily remained a staple in my cellar. When I run out of Saint Clair wines, I tend to get grumpy and remedy the situation as quickly as possible. Continue reading

Appellational Series – Top 10 Oakville Wines


Red Hot Soil with Soul

I was recently certified as a California Wine Appellation Specialist. It meant a lot to me, since I have spent the last dozen years traversing California’s wine regions. It is a wonderful culmination of a long, and deeply fulfilling journey of girl and the grape. Continue reading

The Sage of South Island – A Visit To New Zealand’s Johanneshof Cellars


“Some wines taste good. Some – remarkably good. And some transport you to a place in time that you told yourself you forgot. You willed yourself to forget. And yet there it is – right in front of you…”

It is no exaggeration to say that I completely, hopelessly fell in love with Johanneshof Cellars co-owner, Warwick Foley and his lovely young family. Continue reading

Anything But Sauvignon – Gibson Bridge Story


My days in Marlborough were packed with multiple vineyard visits. One of my first stops was Gibson Bridge Vineyard’s eclectic Cellar Door (in New Zealand, a tasting room is referred to as a “cellar door”).  Their award winning cellar door is in a former garage/flower workshop. Featuring boudoir style decor, mirrors, chandeliers, and original artwork with the motto “excellence through passion”, it oozes old fashioned charm. Continue reading

Luxurious Languedoc


“Learn to enjoy the way as much as you would enjoy when you reach the destination.” -Sakshi Chetana, Laughing Buddha:The Alchemy of Euphoric Living


This was my first trip to the South of France. Having been to France before, I kept hearing from others how different the south was from the rest of the country, especially Paris itself. I could not wait to experience it. Indeed it was, as hospitable and heartwarming as I had envisioned, and so much more. Continue reading

The Marlborough-ness of it all… “Methode Marlborough”


“Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It’s about the choice to show up and be real.” – Brene Brown 

My plane touched down in Blenheim, the heart of New Zealand’s Marlborough wine country at 9:35 AM. By 10:00, I was standing at the Cellar Door (the New Zealand term for “tasting room”) of Spy Valley Wines, with adrenaline rushing through my jetlagged veins. This trip was long awaited and I was determined to enjoy every minute of it. My gracious host, Spy Valley’s charming winemaker, Paul Bourgeois, cheerfully showed me around the facility. It was a crisp and sunny winter’s day and I soaked in the brightest sky I had ever seen. Continue reading

New Zealand – Marlborough Series – Prologue


Good As Gold

“People say you only live once… I say live life the way it was meant to be with Family, Friends and Laughter. Live life to the fullest!” – Nishan Panwar

 “Good As Gold”

I first heard of  New Zealand’s premier wine growing region, Marlborough, from a California winemaker a number of years ago. He was quite taken with New Zealand and appeared emotionally impacted by the beauty of the region. Admittedly, I was intrigued. I kept hearing about the country’s gorgeousness from wine lovers who had visited or worked there. I soon acquired my first bottle of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, and that was it. I was hooked for life. The distinct, vibrant, impossibly fresh, with bright acidity and racy personality, these wines have become steady companions in my drinking repertoire. In fact, New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs (or “Savvies” as New Zealanders affectionately refer to them), have prominently dominated my personal consumption for many years. Finally it was my turn to gush. I was on my way to New Zealand, after years of dreaming about it, bound for Marlborough, my beloved Sauvignon Blanc country. Continue reading

Hilliard Bruce – The Brand with a View on Authenticity


“Truth is a point of view, but authenticity can’t be faked.”

-Peter Guber

One only has to spend a few minutes with John Hilliard, proprietor of Hilliard Bruce Vineyard,  to realize that he is a dynamic man of principles, deep convictions, formidable work ethic and unrelenting drive to succeed at everything he does. Born in Houston, as an heir to a shipyard dynasty, he quadrupled his family’s business in record time. John’s passion for painting led him to become a patron of the arts as well as an active involvement in Diverse Works, a Houston based art organization where he became President. He also became an Advisory Board Member for the Museum of Fine Arts and Glassel Art School. Continue reading

How the West Won Me – West of West Wine Festival


“A gourmet meal without a glass of wine just seems tragic to me somehow.”

― Kathy Mattea

If you consider yourself any sort of Pinot lover, friend or even a distant acquaintance, you may want to block next’ year’s first weekend of August on your calendar. West of West is a two day festival that takes place in the city of Sebastopol, located in the heart of Sonoma County. The event offers seminars, tastings and elaborate dinners hosted by wine making luminaries. Continue reading

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